Los Angeles Blade, Volume 08, Issue 09, April 05, 2024

Page 1

Meet the man who would oust MTG

Our

APRIL 05, 2024 • VOLUME 08 • ISSUE 09 • AMERICA’S LGBTQ NEWS SOURCE • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
exclusive interview with Georgia Democrat Shawn Harris, PAGE 03

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He hopes the experience will also “make them say, ‘OK, it’s OK to vote for Donald Trump’” but on “the second line `7+,3(5,B)4473a,3()3,*/44,0)<,'()*+,-)../0,)+;,G).H7./5,#)<47., 8.55+51T,3(505,=74M0,6/9(3,2(7705,37,:735,=7.,3(5,N5672.)3D /2,2)+;/;)35,7.,S/=,3(5<,0M/F,/31,3(5,6)3(,03).30,97/+9,/+,6<, =):7.,5/3(5.,*)<AT

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He also discussed the significance of his military experience in the context of helping to better serve veterans in !7.3(*503,857.9/)A,S`K5,:535.)+0,).5a,HC03,)0,;/:5.05,)0,5:D 5.<B7;<,54051T,-)../0,0)/;A,S"+;,$O6,97/+9,)+;,3)4M/+9,37,3()3, group because I am a veteran, 100% disabled, so I know ex-

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The report is a follow up to a June 2023 LGBTQ Celebrities & Allies open letter facilitated by GLAAD and the Human Rights Campaign, which called on social media <23>C=064G)87A2E5879)H1>3G)>=)3550144)>@1)1<85168A)=C)37; ti-trans hate on its platforms — citing harmful lies about >0374917510)@132>@A301G)6328A8=E4)37>8;&.N#O)Q90==610R) 73003>8M14G)375)01217>2144)FE22?879)375)@30344617>)=C)>0374) public figures. The 250+ signatories of the letter, which received extensive national media coverage, included such high-profile names as Elliot Page, Laverne Cox, Jamie Lee Curtis, Shawn Mendes, Janelle Monáe, Gabrielle Union, Judd Apatow, Ariana Grande, and Jonathan Van Ness. “GLAAD, HRC, and 250+ LGBTQ celebrities and allies E0915)H1>3)7871)6=7>@4)39=)>=)A013>1)375)4@301)3)<237) >=)3550144)>@1)1<85168A)=C)37>8;>0374)@3>1)=7)>@180)<23>; forms,” said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. Q#@1)A=6<37?I4)=79=879)C382E01)>=)17C=0A1)8>4)=:7)<=28; A814)393874>)37>8;&.N#OG)375)14<1A8322?)37>8;>0374)@3>1)84) 486<2?)E73AA1<>3F21L)#@1)=79=879)873A>8=7)375)48217A1)84) 37)3A>8M1)A@=8A1G)4@=:879)>@3>)H1>3)84)7=>)28M879)E<)>=)8>4) A=6<37?)M32E14)375)6=4>)86<=0>37>2?G)84)7=>)<0=>1A>879)8>4) >0374)375)917510)7=7A=7C=06879)E4104LR

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43?879)>0374)<1=<21)301)Q5849E4>879)<10M10>4TR)<=4>4)4122879) 410M8A14)A2386879)>=)F1)3F21)>=)A@3791)<1=<21I4)41DE32)=08; 17>3>8=7)375)917510)8517>8>?)PQA=7M1048=7)>@103<?RST)375) >3091>15)@30344617>)=C)@132>@A301)<0=M85104)C13>E0879) >@180)73614)375)<@=>=4):8>@)>@1)=687=E4)<0=6<>)Q(@3>) 5=)?=E)>@87K)4@=E25)F1)5=71)>=)5=A>=04)>@3>)<10C=06)U917; der affirming care’ surgeries on minors?”  "2=794851)>@1)<=4>4G)>@1)01<=0>)324=)87A2E514)1DA10<>4) C0=6)>@1)<=28A814)>@1?)3<<130)>=)M8=23>1)P87A2E5879)H1; ta’s hate speech, violence and incitement, bullying and harassment, and suicide and self-injury policies). All posts :101)01<=0>15)F?).&""/)M83)H1>3I4)4>375305)<23>C=06)01; porting systems from June 2023 – March 2024. Meta deter68715)>@3>)7=71)301)87)M8=23>8=7)=C)8>4)<=28A814)=0)585)7=>) take action on them.

The report comes on the heels of the January 2024 Oversight Board ruling in the “Post in Polish Targeting Trans People” case (which involved an anti-trans Facebook post >@3>)H1>3)A=7>17>)6=5103>=04)01<13>152?)51>1068715) :34)7=>)87)M8=23>8=7)=C)8>4)<=28A814G)514<8>1)6E2>8<21)01<=0>4) C0=6)E4104SL

$7)8>4)0E2879G)>@1)%M10489@>)N=305)P>@1)F=5?)>@3>)63K14) 7=7;F875879)FE>)<01A1517>;41>>879)0E28794)3F=E>)H1>3) A=7>17>)6=5103>8=7)A3414S)A8>15)QH1>3I4)01<13>15)C382E01) >=)>3K1)>@1)A=001A>)17C=0A1617>)3A>8=7R)=7)>@1)1D>0161) anti-trans hate post, which clearly violated Meta’s own policies.

Meta’s enforcement failures have prompted repeated rebukes and concern from the Oversight Board. As  !"# $%& and  '()*+),-) have documented, some users find that their reports on harmful content are not reviewed at all.  3455!*60"$0&+$0#*!02+(,#*7.&*58$".(

Calling for urgent action from Meta, the report notes >@3>V)Q&.N#O)<1=<21)375)=>@10)>3091>15)90=E<4)1D<1; rience an increasing number of well-documented real-world harms stemming from these long-term anti-LGBTQ propaganda campaigns, driven by the anti-LGBTQ extremists that Meta allows to flourish on its platforms.

Meta itself acknowledges in its public statements and in its own policies that hate speech ‘creates an environment of intimidation and exclusion,  ./0*$/*&%1)*2.&)&*1.3*4,%# mote offline violence.’ Such acknowledgements of its own AE2<3F828>?)63K1)H1>3I4)71928917A1)375)01CE432)>=)<0=>1A>) <1=<21)C0=6)4EA@)@3>1)P7=>)=72?)>0374G)7=7F8730?G)375) &.N#O)<1=<21)W)FE>)A=E7>2144)=>@10)@84>=08A322?)630987; 328B15)90=E<4S)322)>@1)6=01)4@=AK879LR #@1)01<=0>)A=7A2E514)F?)018>103>879)>@1)5163754)=C) the June 2023 LGBTQ Celebrities & Allies open letter: Meta P375)=>@10)<23>C=064S)6E4>)E0917>2?)A013>1)375)4@301)<2374) for addressing: Content that spreads malicious lies and 58487C=063>8=7)3F=E>)@132>@A301)C=0)>0374917510)?=E>@T) 3AA=E7>4)375)<=4>8794)>@3>)<10<1>E3>1)37>8;&.N#O)1D; >01684>)@3>1)375)58487C=063>8=7)P87A2E5879)>@1)37>8;&.N#O) Q90==610R)>0=<1SG)87)M8=23>8=7)=C)<23>C=06)<=28A814T)51; @E6378B879G)@3>1CE2)3>>3AK4)=7)<0=68717>)>0374917510) public figures and influencers; and anti-transgender hate

BM $9$':;<&$=>?$@=@A$9$&BC'!%D&DCE&'(DFGB2

4<11A@G)87A2E5879)>3091>15)684917510879G)5135736879G) 375)@3>1;508M17)>0=<14L

As highlighted in GLAAD’s 2023 Social Media Safety Index (SMSI) report, Meta is largely failing to mitigate dangerous anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ hate and disinforma>8=7G)514<8>1)4EA@)A=7>17>)M8=23>879)>@180)=:7)<=28A814L)#@1) SMSI also recommends to Meta and others that they must F1>>10)>0387)6=5103>=04)=7)>@1)71154)=C)&.N#O)E4104G)375) 17C=0A1)<=28A814)30=E75)37>8;&.N#O)A=7>17>)3A0=44)322)237; guages, cultural contexts, and regions. The 2024 edition of the SMSI is forthcoming this summer.

5,,"$".(+/*9+8:)&.%(,*.(*$;0 <=0&#");$*9.+&,*>+#0?

On March 15, 2024, in response to the Oversight Board ruling, Meta’s Transparency Center issued an update that >@1)A=6<37?)84)Q344144879)C1348F828>?R)=C)174E0879)>@3>) “flag-based visual depictions of gender identity … are understood as representations of a group defined by the gender identity of its members.” Read GLAAD’s full state617>)@101L

#@1)<=4>):34)37)190198=E4)1D36<21)=C)37>8;>0374)@3>1) 35M=A3>879)C=0)>0374917510)<1=<21)>=)A=668>)4E8A851G)C13; >E0879)37)86391)=C)3)4>08<15)AE0>387)87)>@1)F2E1G)<87KG)375) white colors of the transgender flag with a text overlay in Polish saying: ‘New technology. Curtains that hang themselves.’ The post was repeatedly flagged by users, but Me>3I4)A=7>17>)6=5103>=04)322=:15)>@1)<=4>)>=)016387L)#@1) post was only removed  .56), the Oversight Board alerted H1>3L)#@1)A341)822E6873>14)4?4>168A)C382E014):8>@)>@1)A=6; <37?I4)6=5103>8=7)<03A>8A14)W)87A2E5879):8514<0135)C382; E01)>=)17C=0A1)>@180)=:7)<=28A814G)34)7=>15)F?)>@1)%M10489@>) Board and in GLAAD’s September 2023 public comment to the Oversight Board for the adjudication of the case.

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The third annual GLAAD Social Media Safety Index (SMSI) & Platform Scorecard was released in June 2023. After reviewing the platforms on 12 LGBTQ-specific indicators, all <23>C=064)01A18M15)2=:)375)C382879)4A=014V

X) Instagram: 63%

X) Facebook: 61%

X) TikTok: 57%

X) YouTube: 54%

X) Twitter: 33%

Key findings of the 2023 SMSI included:

X) "7>8;&.N#O)0@1>=08A)=7)4=A832)61583)>037423>14)>=) real-world offline harms.

X) Social media platforms are largely failing to mitigate >@84)537910=E4)@3>1)375)58487C=063>8=7)375)87351; quately enforce their own policies.

X) #@101)84)3)23AK)=C)>0E1)>0374<3017A?)01<=0>879)C0=6) >@1)<23>C=064L

The 2024 GLAAD Social Media Safety Index is forthcoming in Summer 2024.

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The SPLC listing notes that Raichik’s social media posts and public appearances often focus on demonizing LGBTQ+ people #$%#'+*,%-&.&/01&

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Chaya Raichik, the notorious founder and creator of the extremist anti-LGBTQ+ social media account Libs of TikTok has been added to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s listing for hate and extremists individuals, groups and ,1:5-;A5.;,-6/

In February, NBC News technology reporter David Ingram, detailed bomb threats and violent threats inspired by Raichik’s social media posts. NBC News identified 33 instances, starting in November 2020, when people or institutions singled out by Libs of TikTok later reported bomb threats or other violent intimidation.

The threats, which on average came several days after tweets from Libs of TikTok, targeted schools, libraries, hospitals, small businesses and elected officials in 16 states, Washington, D.C., and the Canadian province of Ontario. Twenty-one of the 33 threats were bomb threats, which most commonly targeted schools and were made via email.

In November of 2023, in a lengthy exposé, Media Matters researchers documented 25 institutions, events, and individuals who reported threats after being targeted by Libs of TikTok, and 8 who reported harassment.

In April 2022, Washington Post reporter Taylor Lorenz unmasked Chaya Raichik as the person behind the social media account @LibsofTikTok. Raichik has characterized the event as “doxxing” (maliciously posting personal information online) and said that being exposed motivated her anti-LGBTQ+ activism.

A Human Rights Campaign December 2022 report on the link between online harassment and offline violence named Libs of TikTok (LoTT) as one of the accounts responsible for a “campaign of hate against hospitals and medical providers who offer gender-affirming care.” The report found that “24 different hospitals and providers, across 21 states, … were directly attacked online following harassing, inflammatory and misleading posts,” some authored by LoTT.

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In December 2022, Raichik appeared for the first time on camera with Tucker B5186,-/+%-+5-+ episode of Carlson’s Fox Nation program, Raichik compared LGBTQ+ identi.4+.,+5+3=8.+5-<+ pushed false claims about

Raichik, a formerly active New York City real estate agent, directs her brand of extremist vitriolic anti-LGBTQ outrage towards a massive audience of 2.6M followers on X (formerly Twitter), was profiled in the USA Today newspaper last Fall.

The article documented multiple incidents of her Libs of TikTok posts that are regularly followed by harassment and threats of violence. Bomb threats to hospitals and harassment against hospital staff have followed the account’s posts to social media. A similar relationship is apparent in a series of bomb threats, death threats, and harassment efforts against schools, libraries, and educators.

Raichik responded by gleefully posting a photograph of herself holding the paper with the profile article clearly visible on the USA Today front page writing: “Today’s front cover of @USATODAY!” Not long after, X-formerly Twister’s platform owner Elon Musk congratulated her to which she thanked him for and expressed her gratitude for Musk ‘protecting’ free speech.

The Southern Poverty Law Center’s listing for Raichik is extremely long and detailed. Some key points include:

“In addition to suspensions of care and terror among America’s health care workers, (her) disinformation campaign has been the basis for right-wing legislative efforts to ban gender-affirming health care in the United States.”

“On Aug. 25, 2022, Raichik posted an audio recording purporting to confirm her claims that Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C., was also providing “gender-affirming hysterectomies on minors.” Although the hospital denied the report… they also received threats, including death threats directed to doctors and bomb threats. “

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Now, a Data For Progress poll shows 24% have seen care disrupted #$%&'()%'&&*

'$((%)&"*+',-./+0+$-+1232-.+42516*+6272158+8596+.51:2.;-:+ .15-6:2-<21+5<=8.6+>572+?22-+@1,@,62<+,1+2-53.2</+#>262+ laws eliminate Medicaid coverage for transgender healthcare, permit pharmacists and hospital systems to discriminate against transgender patients, and impose restrictions on providers in various ways.

Until recently, little information was available on how these new statutes affect transgender adults. While their care is often not explicitly prohibited, they may still experience disruptions due to anti-transgender laws. Now, a just released Data for Progress poll reveals that 24% of transgender adults have had their healthcare disrupted or discontinued as a result of anti-transgender legislation.

The survey, focusing on transgender and LGBTQ+ respondents, specifically questioned transgender individuals about the impact of anti-transgender policies or rhetoric on their lives. Among the transgender respondents, 24% reported that their access to gender-affirming care was interrupted or discontinued in the past year. Considering the Williams Institute’s estimation of 1.6 million transgender Americans, this percentage translates to more than 380,000 transgender adults whose care has been disrupted by recent anti-trans:2-<21+82:;685.;,-+,1+1>2.,1;3/

While the survey does not detail the specific disruptions to healthcare access, a range of recent legislative actions and policy amendments may play a role. Several laws and updates in state policy have barred Medicaid from covering gender-affirming care. For example, South Carolina has recently revised its policy to eliminate coverage of transgender healthcare for individuals of all ages. In addition, states such as Florida have introduced strict restrictions, effectively banning up to 80% of all gender-affirming care for transgender adults within the state. A number of states have also enacted laws allowing religious-based medical discrimination against transgender individuals, allowing doctors, pharmacists, and even receptionists and cashiers to decline the dispensation of hormone prescriptions to transgender people. Furthermore, Idaho has recently passed legislation that prohibits the use of public funds or facilities for providing any gender-affirming care, potentially causing significant disruptions to transgen<21+>258.>3512+9;.>;-+.>2+6.5.2/

The findings are significant, and show that transgender youth are not the only ones impacted by recent anti-transgender legislation. In addition to the 50% of transgender youth that live in states that have barred or heavily restricted gender affirming care, transgender adults appear to also be

impacted by recent anti-trans legislation and rhetoric. The consequences of recent legislation and rhetoric extend beyond disruptions in medical care. The survey also inquired 5?,=.+.>2+3,-321-6+.15-6:2-<21+;-<;7;<=586+>572+12:51<;-:+ discrimination and harassment. The findings are alarming: 68% of transgender adults express concern about facing discrimination and harassment in restrooms, 64% report similar apprehensions about nightclubs, and 62% fear engaging in public displays of affection with their partners. As a result of these concerns, 44% of transgender adults indicate they have contemplated relocating or have already relocated from their community or state due to anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.

Anti-transgender policies targeting adults seem to be in31256;-:84+@127582-./+$-+6272158+6.5.26*+82:;685.;,-+>56+?22-+ proposed and passed to end all legal recognition of transgen<21+;-<;7;<=586/

Additionally, recent audio recordings from Republican legislators in Ohio and Michigan reveal an “endgame” aimed at ending transgender care “for everyone.” Before this latest poll, the extent of the disruption caused by these laws and @,8;3;26+,-+.15-6:2-<21+5<=8.6+956+851:284+=-38251/+'5-4+512+ now finding themselves forced to leave their states simply to 533266+-23266514+3512/

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Our love is more inclusive and beautiful than straight love #$%&'(()%(*+,-

Recent exposure to social circles of queer men — predominantly gay men — has led me to appreciate how queer people often lead romantic and sex lives. In general, I’ve found that queer love supersedes straight love: in many prior and current interactions, queer people, in my opinion, are more open to flirting with polyamory, varied sexual experiences, and a more general openness to experimenting with romance.

I am someone who generally prides myself on being against stereotypes. I don’t like to stereotype transmen as aggressive, violent abusers, because that is far from true, as my experience with transness has found that transmen can take on all types of dimensions, ranging from feminine, gay types to traditionally straight people interested in women. I also don’t like stereotyping queer women, as many types of queer women abound, ranging from lipstick lesbians to butch girls and all in between.

tion. This is all to say that, when socializing with queer men, I greatly appreciate their openness to sleeping with others–even when maintaining a spouse or boyfriend.

But I can’t help observe that the men I interact with who identify as gay often are in partnerships where they allow the other spouse or boyfriend to experiment with other people. This doesn’t happen all the time, and monogamy still certainly abounds, but in many cases, relationships are made open, with steady agreements in place.

When I first read the book “The Ethical Slut,” authored by Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy, I was against their theory of polyamory and open sex. I still am a monogamous person in relationships, but when single, I am now more open to sexual encounters with others in open relationships. The premise of “The Ethical Slut” is that non-monogamy can be practiced on moral terms, and safely, and consensually, and respectfully. The book even argues that non-monogamy is a favorable act sometimes, and that couples who practice non-monogamy can still lead healthy lives.

I both agree and disagree with the thesis of “The Ethical Slut.” But once again, as a single person, the book captures my atten-

I first came out as transgender in 2015, but have since felt a mini-revolution in the way society perceives trans people. We still have a long ways to go, repealing awful bathroom bills and ensuring that gender nonconforming teenagers have access to affirming healthcare. We need to push back against transphobia, particularly in regions like the South and rural areas of the Midwest.

In the year 2024, though, I’ve found more cisgender gay men to be open to sleeping with transmen, and some even do extensive research on how to fulfill our romantic and sexual needs. The relationships between cisgender queer men and transmen should improve over time, and develop through organic interactions at parties, at conferences, and on queer-specific dating apps. There are still plenty of cisgender gay men who openly reject sex with transmen, but that number is shrinking as the years progress. At the very least, cisgender gay men are more and more able to understand the trans struggle on a platonic, friendship-based level. This decency gives me great hope for the future.

All in all, queer love, to me, is more beautiful than straight love. Queer people are more accommodating of differences in sexual preferences, and fulfilling divergent needs in bed. I hope this kind of unfettered and unbound love continues.

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Ryan Walters, Libs of TikTok, gay blogger redefne

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Raichik spreads false info including anti-trans pseudoscience about trans identity and experiences that stoke fear, distrust & hatred

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LOS ANGELES – A newly amplifed twist in Nex Bene dict’s narrative only continues to do him and other trans youth harm.  This latest iteration is being driven by Cha ya Raichik, the notorious anti-LGBTQ+ creator of Libs of TikTok, her ally Oklahoma’s state Superintendent of its education system Ryan Walters, and Chad Felix Greene a gay blogger who contributes to the far right extremist website Red State.

Raichik’s social media posts and public appearanc es often focus on demonizing LGBTQ+ people. Raichik spreads false information including anti-trans pseudo science about transgender identity and experiences that stoke fear, distrust and hatred of trans people.

In a post on X (formerly Twitter), without any consider ation to Nex or his family, Raichik shared intimate details regarding the sexual abuse he endured at the hands of his father. Details of which that were known to multiple media outlets, but not considered germane to the sui cide of the 16-year-old outside of being one of several contributing factors to his death with the primary areas of focus on the environment in the high school which in cluded ongoing instances of severe transphobic bullying.

Editor’s note: Caution, the following contains trans phobic rhetoric and misgendering:

“It’s the suicide lie again. Nex didn’t commit suicide because she was bullied for being LGBTQ. she commit ted suicide because she sufered from mental health is sues and was a victim of sexual abuse by her father. She wrote suicide notes in the weeks before her death and her father was arrested again 2 weeks before she over dosed. Her issues weren’t addressed, she wasn’t helped, and she was sufering” Raichik posted two days ago.

Raichik’s attempt to redefne the circumstances re garding Benedict’s death and the causes was drawn from Greene’s published article wherein he misgendered and dead named Benedict and blamed his death on a “failed legal system, trauma struggles with mental health, and a young girl far too overwhelmed to handle it all on her own.”

This statement fails to leave out one crucial compo nent of Benedict’s life – the harassment and bullying they experienced literally up until the day they died. Let us not forget that this all began with a fght at school, where Benedict was not allowed to use the bathroom that aligned with his gender identity. This is due to the pass ing of yet another anti-trans bathroom bill. The school (district) chose funding access over the safety of their students. They failed to do their one basic job and that is to protect all of the students, not just some.

As we continue to learn more about who Nex Benedict was, and what he experienced as a young trans person, it does not surprise me that people like Greene would hop at the opportunity to blame the victim.

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Benedict experienced abuse at the hands of his father at a very young age. This is a mitigating factor in his trag ic death, but it is in no way the whole story. Anyone at tempting to push that narrative is sorely incorrect and is failing to see the intricacies of a trans person’s life and the impact that a volatile and hateful school superinten dent (Ryan Walters) can have on young people’s well-be ing.

Beyond Ryan Walters and his archaic ideology, an en tire state that is hostile towards transgender people, with over 60 anti-trans laws introduced in 2024 alone, you cannot deny the overarching themes here. Benedict was not safe. He should have been safe at school, at the very least, and yet the Owasso High School administra tion failed at this. Benedict was failed more than once in his life and while his past traumas may have played a part in his decision-making, the travesty here is a sys tem that would rather see children die, than change their ways.

As there are escalating tensions and controversies sur rounding not only the death of Benedict, but the treat ment of LGBTQ+ students, especially trans and non-bina ry in Oklahoma schools, Superintendent Ryan Walters’s comments at a State Board of Education meeting on Thursday has further sparked anger among LGBTQ+ ad vocates.

Referring to the death of Benedict, Walters accused of LGBTQ advocacy groups of exploiting the tragedy for po litical gain.

“A woke mob formed around the death of a child. They lied. They attacked. Truth has come to light and we will not back down,” Walters said.

“At the time, we had radical left-wing activists who were aided by the fake news media who made outra geous and unfounded claims on the situation from the beginning. These radical groups lied, intentionally so, to push a political narrative,” he added.

“They wanted to use the death of a child to support a political agenda, and I think it’s absolutely disgusting, and you are going to hear these groups, this woke mob, continue to push an agenda and lie to further the most radical agenda this country has ever seen,” Walters al leged.

He then said “I will never back down to a woke mob. I will never lie to our kids or allow a radical agenda to be forced on our kids.” Walters publicly has declared that there are “not multiple genders” and that state’s schools “would not perpetuate what he considers a lie that trans gender and nonbinary people exist.”

Since Benedict’s passing, the Indiana-based nonprof it the Rainbow Youth Project which provides LGBTQ+ mental health crisis counseling, has had a 500% increase in calls. Between February 16th and 20th they received 349 calls from Oklahoma, during a time they normally would average 87 calls per week. 69% of those callers mentioned Benedict’s death. 85% said they were experi encing bullying at school, 79% were in fear of their phys ical safety, and more than 10% were students at Owasso High School, where Benedict attended.

According to the 2022 U.S Transgender Survey, 60% of 16 and 17-year-old respondents experienced one or more forms of “mistreatment or negative experience, in cluding verbal harassment, physical attacks, online bul lying, being denied the ability to dress according to their gender identity/expression, teachers or staf refusing to use chosen name or pronouns, or being denied the use of restrooms or locker rooms matching their gender identity”.

In Oklahoma (U.S Trans Survey, 2015) 46% of those students were verbally harassed, 19% attacked, and 10% sexually assaulted. 17% faced such severe mistreatment that they left school all together. 56% of trans people in Oklahoma avoided using a public restroom because they were afraid of confrontations or other problems they might experience.

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In the show’s engrossing first episode, this is a particularly effective hook, style cou23+,-'7+*"';(,*#A*'*('0,8#$&;($#'*"#'/3#.F,#&&'(9'I+23#6%&'8.+36'$(0*+,#'+,'D#7']($F>'

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Hawkins leaves others some words of advice for their artistic endeavors: “Keep an open mind, an open heart, & a willingness to evolve”

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LONG BEACH, Calif. - Emerging from the dynamic music scene of Los Angeles, California, Juliet Hawkins seamlessly in tegrates deeply soulful vocals with contemporary production techniques, crafting a distinctive sound that defes convention al categorization.

Drawing inspiration from the emotive depth of Amy Wine house and weaving together elements of country, blues, and pop, Hawkins’ music can best be described as a fusion-perhaps best termed as !"#$%#$&'$'()*"+,(-.& Yet, even this characteriza tion falls short, as Hawkins defnes herself as “a blend of a mil lion diferent inspirations.”

Hawkins’ musical palette mirrors her personae: versatile and eclectic. Any conversation with Hawkins makes this point abundantly clear. She exhibits the archetype of a wild, musi cal genius while remaining true to her nature-loving, creative spirit. Whether recording in the studio for an album release, performing live in a studio setting, or playing in front of a live audience, Hawkins delivers her music with natural grace.

However, Hawkin’s musical journey is far from efortless. Amidst personal challenges and adversity, she weaves her per sonal odyssey of pain and pleasure, transforming these experi ences into empowering anthems.

In a candid interview with the Blade, Hawkins spoke with profound openness and vulnerability about her past struggles with opiate and heroin addiction: “That was 10 years ago that I struggled with opiates,” she shared. Yet, instead of letting her previous addiction defne her, Hawkins expressed to the Blade that she harbors no shame about her past. “My newer music is much more about empowerment than recovery,” she ex plained, emphasizing that “writing was the best way to process trauma.”

Despite her struggles with addiction, Hawkins managed to recover. However, she emphasizes that this recovery is deeply intertwined with her spiritual connection to nature. An illustra tive instance of Hawkins’ engagement with nature occurred during the COVID pandemic.

Following an impulse that many of us have entertained, she bought a van and chose to live amidst the trees. It was during this period that Hawkins composed the music for her second EP, titled “Lead with Love.”

In many ways, Hawkins deep spiritual connection to nature has been profoundly shaped by her extensive travels. Born in San Diego, spending her formative years in Massachusetts, and later moving to Tennessee before returning to Southern California, she has broadened her interests and exposed her self to the diverse musical landscapes across America.

“Music is the only thing I have left,” Hawkins confdes to the Blade, highlighting the integral role that music has in her life. This intimate relationship with music is evident in her sultry and dynamic compositions. Rather than imitating or copying other artists, Hawkins efortlessly integrates sounds from some of her favorite musical infuences to create something new. Some of these infuences include LP, Lucinda Williams, Lana Del Rey, and, of course, Amy Winehouse, among others.

Hawkins has always been passionate about music - she be gan with piano at a young age, progressed to guitar, and then to bass, eagerly exploring any instrument she could get her hands on. However, instead of following a traditional path of formalized lessons and structured music theory, Hawkins told the Blade that she “has a hard time following directions and being told what to do.”

This independent approach has led her to experiment with various genres and even join unexpected groups, such as a tribute band for Eric Clapton and Cream. While she acknowl edges that her eclectic musical interests might be attributed to ADHD, she holds a diferent belief: “Creative minds like to move around.”

When discussing her latest musical release - “Stay True (the live album)” which was recorded in a live studio setting - Haw kins describes the experience as a form of improvisation with both herself and the band:

“[The experience] was this divine honey that was fowing through all of us.” She explains that this live album was uncer tain in the music’s direction. “For a couple of songs,” Hawkins recalls, “we intuitively closed them out.” By embracing creative spontaneity and refusing to be constrained by fear of mistakes, the live album authentically captures raw sound, complete with background chatter, extended outros, and an extremely som ber cover of Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” coupled with a slow piano and accompanied strings.

While “Stay True” was a rewarding experience for Hawkins, her favorite live performance took place in an unexpected lo cation—an unattended piano in the middle of an airport. As she began playing Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata”, Hawkins shared with the Blade a universal connection we all share with music: “This little girl was dancing as I was playing.”

After the performance, tears welled in Hawkins’ eyes as she was touched by the young girl’s appreciation of her musician ship. Hawkins tells the Blade, “It’s not about playing to an audi ence—it’s about fnding your people.”

What sets Hawkins apart as an artist is her ability to connect with her audience in diverse settings. She highlights EDC, an electronic dance music festival, as a place where she unabash edly lets her “freak fag” fy and a place to connect with her peo ple. Her afnity for electronic music not only fuels her original pop music creations, but also inspires her to reinterpret songs with an electronic twist. A prime example of this is with her electronic-style cover of Tal Bachman’s 90’s hit, “She’s So High.”

As an openly queer woman in the music industry, Hawkins is on a mission to safeguard artistic integrity. In songs like “My Father’s Men,” she bares her vulnerability and highlights the in dustry’s misogyny, which often marginalizes gender minorities in their pursuit of artistic expression.

She confdes to the Blade, “The industry can be so sexist, misogynist, and oppressive,” and points out that “there are predators in the industry.” Yet, rather than succumbing to apa thy, Hawkins is committed to advocating for gender minorities within the music industry.

She tells the Blade: “Luckily, people are rising up against mi sogyny, but it’s still there. ‘My Father’s Men’ is a message: It’s time for more people who aren’t just white straight men to have a say.”

Hawkins is also an activist for other causes, with a fervent belief in the preservation of bodily autonomy. Her self-directed music video “I’ll play Daddy,” showcases the joy of embracing one’s body with Hawkins being sensually touched by a plethora of hands. While the song, according to Hawkins, “fell upon deaf ears in the south,” it hasn’t stopped Hawkins from continuing to fght for the causes she believes in. In her interview, Haw kins encapsulated her political stance by quoting an artist she admires:

“To quote P!nk, ‘I don’t care about your politics, I care about your kids.’”

When Hawkins isn’t writing music or being a champion for various causes, you might catch her doing the following: camp ing, rollerblading, painting, teaching music lessons, relaxing with Bernie (her beloved dog), stripping down for artsy pho toshoots, or embarking on a quest to fnd the world’s best hol landaise sauce.

But at the end of the day, Hawkins sums up her main pur pose: “To come together with like-minded people and create.”

Part of this ever-evolving, coming-of-age-like journey in cludes an important element: plant-based medicine. Hawkins tells the Blade that she acknowledges her previous experience with addiction and fnds certain plants to be useful in her re covery:

“The recovery thing is tricky,” Hawkins explains, “I don’t use opiates—-no powders and no pills—but I am a fan of weed, and I think psilocybin can be helpful when used at the right time.” She emphasizes the role of psychedelics in guiding her towards her purpose. “Thanks for psychedelics, I have a reignited sense of purpose … Music came naturally to me as an outlet to heal.”

While she views the occasional dabbling of psychedelics as a spiritual practice, Hawkins also embraces other rituals, par ticularly those she performs before and during live shows. “I always carry two rocks with me: a labradorite and a tiger’s eye marble,” she explains.

She also reveals that she drapes her grandmother’s purple scarf over every mic stand she sings from. Hawkins exhibits no shame in who she is: an eclectic, airport-piano-playing, plantbased medicine enthusiast who uses expressive hand gestures in conversation, and calls out the music industry when she feels like it.

Hawkins leaves readers, musicians, and other creators some words of advice to incorporate in their own artistic endeav ors: “Keep an open mind, an open heart, and a willingness to evolve.”

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