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2 • The Rainbow Times • TheRainbowTimesMass.com

February 6, 2020 - March 4, 2020

Buttigieg: The not-so-diverse candidate in 2020 and his inherent privilege By: Nicole Lashomb* The Rainbow Times’ Editor

“I’m not asking for your vote,” is a phrase and video (https://youtu.be/0VIGB7Zzf-4) that I cannot get out of my mind as presidential hopeful Mayor Pete Buttigieg emphatically said to a crowd of Black Lives Matter folks. They were gathered together in South Bend, Indiana, regarding a series of racial injustices that occurred in the police department, of which he was mayor. Burned into my mind is an arrogant, privileged and laissez-faire attitude regarding the legitimate concerns of the group gathered that day. When I think of the President of the United States, I don’t think of Trump, certainly, but rather President Obama and others before him that have held themselves to a higher level of integrity. When I hear another white cisgender man captured on video unconcerned about getting the black vote, as he said that day, it alarms me on more front than one. Any presidential candidate that blatantly doesn’t care about the concerns of racial and ethnic oppressed groups will not get my vote either, even if he is a member of the LGBTQ+ community. I can’t. I won’t support a candidacy that is riddled in privilege—for someone who shows no regard for other marginalized groups, groups that exist in his own LGBTQ+ community too. But, it goes deeper than that. “In January 2012, Pete Buttigieg stepped into the South Bend, Ind., mayor’s office after winning the city’s first open mayoral

“TO BE BLACK IS TO BE INVISIBLE.” WHAT MAYOR PETE EXHIBITED THAT DAY WAS BLATANT. election in 24 years,” The Root reported. “South Bend had three African Americans in visible high level and public leadership positions: Mayor’s Assistant Lynn Coleman; Fire Chief Howard Buchanon and Police Chief Darryl Boykins.” Three months later, they were gone. Buttigieg stripped them of their positions and whitewashed his administration. In the U.S., there are many forms of racism—overt, covert and the kind that runs like a silent current drifting under a frozen winter river. What Mayor Pete exhibited that day was blatant. According to an editorial published by The Root (https://bit.ly/370N4QQ), author Michael Harriot wrote, “In America, racism doesn’t always present itself in the bold attire of venomous hate. Most often, white supremacy is cloaked in a suit and

tie. It rarely looks you directly in the eye or stares with disdain. It is so vast and wide that it often overlooks your comparatively microscopically small existence. It reduces your desperately loud pleas for acknowledgment to a faint whisper. It makes you feel unseen and unheard.” According to EdBuild.com, a non-profit dedicated to “bring common sense and fairness to the way states fund public schools,” white school districts receive $23 billion more in funding than non-white districts. “Courts sentence black men to prison terms that are 20 percent longer than those of white men who commit the same crime because the criminal justice system overlooks inherent bias,” Harriot said. “This is why it is easy to believe the judges, school boards and employers who contend that they ‘don’t see race.’ To be black is to be invisible.” And, that must change. Currently, every marginalized group in this country is unheard. We were warned about Trump and now we’ve seen evidence of Buttigieg engaging in similar pompous behavior toward the black community. Don’t take my word for it, “Google it.” I want a candidate that understands the complexities of racial, ethnic, gender, and sexual inequities in this country, who understands that not everyone gets a fair shake in life. Although, white folks have difficulties too, the color of their skin is not what brings on those difficulties. That is the definition of privilege that I use here. White privilege doesn’t mean you don’t

Queers have something to teach about spirituality SUPREME HOLINESS A CAN’T BE GIVEN A GEN-

By: Paul P. Jesep* TRT Columnist

FAITH, GOD & FAMILY

lmost 6% of sexual minorities identify as queer, according to a new study from the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law (https://bit.ly/395xaq3). This selfdesignation is no doubt an openness to a broader consciousness and self-awareness. According to a press release issued by the Institute, quoting Ilan H. Meyer, one of the study’s authors, “The term ‘queer’ has a long history with different connotations for sexual minorities.” She added, “Some older people learned it as a derogatory term, but later it was claimed by academics as a critical term and field of study, and some young people may perceive it as an identity that is more fluid than ‘lesbian’ and ‘gay.’ Queer identity seems to represent greater openness to partners of all gender identities.” Those who live their truth as queer give me another valued and valuable perspective. It invites me to explore the limitations I put on others and myself. The perspective challenges me as to why I see the world in a certain way and whether I’ve limited my understanding of it. Hence,

DER OR PERSONALITY BECAUSE SUPREME

GOODNESS IS A DIVINE UNKNOWN. have I limited my ability to spiritually grow? We may have a self-defeating attitude about doing or becoming something due to the limitations we set for ourselves or by letting others do it. Part of it may stem from insecurity about that which is different or unfamiliar. It also could be intellectual laziness and forgetting that learning must never stop. Perhaps, it’s part of a larger issue science has yet to unlock about the brain. The brain is an extraordinary organ. Unfortunately, we will never tap into most of its abilities during our lifetime. It may explain why each of us tends to label and

limit things. We can’t comprehend the enormity, infiniteness, or complexity of the cosmos. If, however, we are mindful of our limitations and the thought that even several lifetimes wouldn’t reveal all the universe’s mysteries, we may become more open to different people, cultures, and experiences. There always must be a hunger to learn and experience things that are personally new to us. Too often we impose limits on God (defined gender-neutral). It’s also done toward faith, religion, or spirituality in general. There isn’t a Jewish, Muslim, or Christian God, according to Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu (https://bit.ly/2vL5M27) of South Africa. What did a Christian leader mean by saying there is no Christian God? The Giver of Life is a mystery. Supreme Holiness can’t be given a gender or personality because Supreme Goodness is a Divine Unknown. Eternal Flame is gay, lesbian, male, female, trans, queer, Christian, Jew, Muslim, and more. Infinite Beauty can manifest in many ways. No matter how many names we to use to quantify, understand, or experience Holy Truth, in the end, it’s still a limitation because we’re human. It doesn’t matter how the Governor of the Universe manifests or becomes incarnate. Read the rest of this story at TheRainbowTimesMass.com

have problems, it means your race is not a cause of those problems. As the primary season carries on, I urge all of those that can to participate in democracy, learn about the candidates, their background, and their honesty. Diversity does not mean that just because you are a member of a marginalized group like Buttigieg is, that you understand the struggles of others. This is why I’ve personally never been behind Buttigieg, and then some. As a member of a marginalized group himself, he should know better but his lengthy track record proves that he does not represent the intersectionalities of our collective existence. In fact, he has stepped all over it. We don’t need more racists in office. *Nicole Lashomb is Editor-in-Chief of The Rainbow Times. She holds a BM from the esteemed Crane School of Music/SUNY Potsdam & an MBA from Marylhurst University. She can be reached at editor@therainbowtimesmass.com.

Multiple Award Winning

The Rainbow Times The Largest LGBTQ Newspaper in New England—Boston Based TheRainbowTimesMass.com editor@therainbowtimesmass.com sales@therainbowtimesmass.com Phone: 617.444.9618 Fax: 928.437.9618 Publisher Graysen M. Ocasio Editor-In-Chief Nicole Lashomb Assistant Editor Mike Givens National/Local Sales Rivendell Media Liz Johnson Lead Photographers Steve Jewett Christine M. Hurley Photographer Jenna Joyce

Reporters Mike Givens Chris Gilmore Audrey Cole Ad & Layout Design Prizm PR Webmaster Jarred Johnson Columnists/Guest Lorelei Erisis Deja N. Greenlaw Paul P. Jesep Mike Givens Keegan O’Brien* Affiliations QSyndicate *Guest Columnist

The Rainbow Times is published monthly by The Rainbow Times, LLC. TRT is an award-winning publication affiliated with QSyndicate. The articles written by the writers, columnists, and correspondents solely express their opinion, and do not represent the endorsement or opinion of The Rainbow Times, LLC or its owners. Send letters to the editor with your name, address and phone number to The Rainbow Times (address shown above), or e-mail any comment/s to the editor-in-chief at: editor@therainbowtimesmass.com. All submissions will be edited according to space constraints. The Rainbow Times, LLC reserves the right not to print any or all content or advertisements for any reason at all. TRT is not responsible for advertising content. To receive The Rainbow Times at your home via regular mail, or through electronic delivery, please visit its website. The whole content and graphics (photos, etc.) are the sole property of The Rainbow Times, LLC and they cannot be reproduced at all without TRT’s written consent. The appearance of names or photographic representations in TRT does not necessarily indicate the sexual orientation or gender identity of the named or depicted individuals.


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February 6, 2020 - March 4, 2020

U.S. legislation aims to dismantle access to health care, blockers for trans youth Contrary to what health experts in trans healthcare say, legislators continue to spread false statements to others Hampshire, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Texas. Some state have gone further than others, even making it a “felony to provide puberty blockers to minors, even though puberty usually occurs when a person is under the age of 18,” LGBTQ Nation reported (https://bit.ly/3b5wYc9). Regardless of what health experts and trans youth advocates have argued, Daw is still steadfast to introduce similar legislation in Utah. His sister, Christy Florence, who has a transgender husband and child penned an op-ed to the Salt Lake Tribune (https://bit.ly/2Sg7KPy) urging her brother to drop this legislation. “Leave the decisions of medical care to the parents and medical professionals,” Florence wrote. “Trust the experts. They know what they are doing. These families know their children and what is the very best for them.”

By: Audrey Cole TRT Reporter

IN THE LIMELIGHT

BOSTON—Nearly a dozen states have introduced bills to prevent trans youth from accessing health care and hormone blockers, a medically necessary yet reversible tool to affirm trans youth identity, according to some of the leading trans healthcare experts across the Commonwealth. “Puberty blockers are medications that temporarily put a puberty on pause,” said Dr. Jack Turban, resident physician in psychiatry at The Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). “This is important because once the physical changes of puberty proceed, they are difficult if not impossible to reverse down the line. Putting them on hold allows transgender adolescents a reprieve from body dysphoria and provides them more time to make a thoughtful decision about what to do next.” Although many opponents of competent trans youth healthcare, such as State Rep. Brad Daw (RUtah), have argued that puberty blockers are “permanent.” The reality is, according to experts in this field, that they are not. “It is important to note that pubertal sup-

pression, with appropriate medical monitoring, is fully reversible,” said Dr. Alex Keuroghlian, senior author, Director of the National LGBT Health Education Center at The Fenway Institute and Director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Psychiatry Gender Identity Program. “It is a safe way

to mitigate negative health outcomes that can result from undergoing puberty that does not align with a transgender youth’s gender identity.” Bills to stop gender-affirming health care for minors have been introduced in Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, New

Mental health Trans youth that are provided puberty blockers have a significantly reduced risk of suicide and superior mental health outcomes, according to a study published (https://bit.ly/2v0xRSP) in the Official Journal of American Pediatrics. “Many transgender youth have a dra-

See Trans Youth On Page 12


4 • The Rainbow Times • TheRainbowTimesMass.com

February 6, 2020 - March 4, 2020

AMA Foundation launches new initiative to address LGBTQ health disparities John D. Evans to Chair AMA Foundation Commission for National LGBTQ Fellowship Program By: Chris Gilmore TRT Reporter

IN THE LIMELIGHT

The American Medical Association Foundation (AMAF) recently announced a new initiative designed to address and shape the health care disparities currently found in LGBTQ health practices nationwide. The new enterprise will create a cadre of LGBTQ health specialists through the AMAF LGBTQ Fellowship Program—a national program to promote best practices and shared outcomes, while exponentially improving the quality of LGBTQ health care across the nation, according to AMAF officers. Internationally recognized business executive and telecommunications pioneer, John D. Evans, will lead the unique plan as the Chairman of the AMAF Fellowship Commission for LGBTQ Health. “The commission will consist of 13-15 LGBTQ thought leaders, educational specialists, physicians, and philanthropists who will be appointed by the AMA Foundation Board of Directors, under Evans’s leadership and direction,” the AMAF release read. “A key social determinant of health affecting sexual and gender minorities is a

shortage of health care providers who are knowledgeable and culturally competent in LGBTQ health. This shortage underscores the immediate need for the AMAF’s LGBTQ Fellowship Program, which will train physicians to become LGBTQ Health Specialists,” said former AMAF president and founding donor of its LGBTQ endowment fund, Joshua M. Cohen, MD, MPH, FAHS. How it works The new initiative builds on the work of the AMA Accelerating Change in Medical Education initiative launched in 2013 to create the medical schools of the future. The goal of the effort is to address the growing gap between how physicians are being trained and the skills they’ll need to practice in modern health systems. “The Commission, who will tentatively convene its first meeting in early 2020, will officially launch this national initiative later this year,” said R. Barkley Payne, Executive Director, AMAF, to The Rainbow Times. “We will use research and data to support all aspects of the curriculum so that within the next five years we can begin to see a decrease in LGBTQ health disparities and an increase in cultural and clinical competence among physicians in LGBTQ health.” According to JAMA (Journal of the

PHOTO: PUBLIC DOMAIN PICTURES/PIXABAY

American Medical Association), “33.3% of medical schools dedicate zero hours of their curriculum to LGBTQ health and on average, medical schools dedicate just 5 hours to LGBTQ health,” according to Payne. “We expect the first fellows to begin training in 2022, unless an institution has already begun to put a fellowship training program together, in which case the timeline can be accelerated to 2021,” added the

foundation’s ED. The AMAF initiated the plan due to the “staggering health care related disparities experienced by the LGBTQ community,” which can be summarized below. • Individuals who identify as gay and lesbian lack a consistent, reliable source of credible health-care related information, especially as it relates to conversion and

See AMA - Health On Page 10


February 6, 2020 - March 4, 2020

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6 • The Rainbow Times • TheRainbowTimesMass.com

February 6, 2020 - March 4, 2020

Miss Trans America Founder: Murderer sentenced to life, possible parole in 25 Christa’s friends and colleagues chime in on the sentence, her life, her legacy NORTH ADAMS, Mass.—Many members of the LGBTQ community throughout New England knew of Christa Leigh SteeleKnudslein. Others knew her just as Christa Hilfers or just Christa. Yet, many more recognized her because of her dedication to giving a platform to the trans community in the region through the Miss Trans New England and Miss Trans America pageants and as a founding member of New England Trans Pride. In 2018, Christa died at the hands of her husband. Two years later, he has been sentenced to life in prison with possible parole after 25 years served, according to multiple news reports. “I send my heartfelt condolences to those who loved Christa dearly and the entire transgender community who looked up to her as a leader,” said Berkshire District Attorney Andrea Harrington to MassLive as she thanked the Adams and North Adams police and state police detectives for their work in investigating the case. An opponent of mass incarceration, Lorelei Erisis, a trans activist, writer for this publication, and the first crowned winner of the Miss Trans New England Pageant, shared how this sentencing has affected her personally, making her “sickto-the-core.” “I truly believe our system of mass incarceration is not just broken, but actively abusive and damaging to those many who get caught up in it,” said Erisis. “And further, I strongly believe the whole system needs radical reformation. “And yet, I'm glad this vile murderer is there. A part of me hopes he suffers. And being glad about that makes me sick. Wanting another human being to suffer, even one who has committed such a violently heinous act, goes directly against everything I believe, everything that makes me, me.” According to press releases issued by the Berkshire County District Attorney’s (DA) Office, Christa, 42, died of multiple blows to the head and a stab wound to the torso. Information made available on the DA’s website states that she was found at her Veazie Street home in North Adams, Massachusetts on the evening of Friday, January 5 and her husband, Mark S. Steele-Knudslien, then 47, was arrested for murder after his admission to police, reported The Rainbow Times (https://bit.ly/31nARor). He was held without bail at the Berkshire County House of Correction. “[Steele-Knudslien] had turned himself in shortly after (https://bit.ly/2GO7Zfh) Christa Leigh’s death,” LGBTQ Nation wrote. “Walking into the Adams police and admitting he ‘did something bad.’ He

PHOTO: THE RAINBOW TIMES

By: Audrey Cole TRT Reporter

claimed in his initial, 29-minute interview (https://bit.ly/2SdeaPn) with them that after being ‘belittled’ by Christa Leigh, he had ‘snapped,’ hit her ‘numerous times’ with a hammer, and then stabbed her in the back. He then wrapped her body in a tarp, left her in their basement, showered, and went to buy alcohol.” Although initially pleading not guilty at an arraignment hearing on January 8, 2018, he eventually changed his plea to guilty, according to LGBTQ Nation (https://bit.ly/2GO7Zfh). “When we think about this crime [and] what the killer said to the authorities (he admitted he killed her and struck her head with numerous blows from a hammer—and that he just ‘snapped’) this is the typical pattern of how trans women are murdered,” said Ben Power Alwin, Curator of the Sexual Minorities Archives and Executive Director of the Sexual Minorities Educational Foundation, Inc. “Their perpetrators completely destroy trans bodies—in this case, the murderer crushed Christa's skull and lodged a knife into her heart. There certainly was hatred of trans women and their bodies that added to the manner in which the killing happened. ‘Just snapping’ is very close to arguing ‘trans panic,’ which has no place in civil society.” Erisis also blames society for her murder. “It was clearly awful that Christa was murdered,” she said. “It was especially awful how she was murdered. Just—so brutal. And this awfulness just expands out in concentric circles of awfulness. The pervasive societal transphobia that would drive a man who was prepared to marry a very-out trans woman, to eventually murder that same trans woman in such a brutal fashion is awful itself. That's not to take responsibility for the act out of his bloody hands but rather to lay part of that responsibility at the feet of our society itself.” Although the sentencing draws some sense of closure to Christa’s death, it is a Read the rest of this Op-Ed at: TheRainbowTimesMass.com


February 6, 2020 - March 4, 2020

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8 • The Rainbow Times • TheRainbowTimesMass.com

February 6, 2020 - March 4, 2020


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February 6, 2020 - March 4, 2020

LOVE BRATTLEBORO VT campaign takes notice of LGBTQ+ community, offers love letter By: Audrey Cole TRT Reporter

BRATTLEBORO, Vt.—In an effort to build on tourism and the region’s hidden treasures, LOVE BRATTLEBORO VT officially launches this month, according to local leaders. “We host more than 1,000 arts and cultural events in Brattleboro each year and there is something for every visitor,” said Stephanie Bonin, executive director of the Downtown Brattleboro Alliance. “Whether it’s the Harris Hill Ski Jump, Strolling of the Heifers, Retreat Farm Food Truck Round-Up, monthly Gallery Walks, or one of the many art, film, music, and dance events, the town is always humming with energy.” Kicking off with a love letter to the region, LOVE BRATTLEBORO VT commences on February 6 and welcomes visitors with open arms, according to the campaign’s press release. February’s festivities focus on events during the 10 days around Valentine’s Day, and that love letter is inclusive of the LGBTQ community. “Brattleboro is well known for its open, progressive values, welcoming attitude and longstanding embrace of diversity and LGBTQ culture,” said Scott Heller, business owner, Frog Meadow Oasis for Men, which offers lodging, massage & men’s retreats and a local LGBTQ guru. “It’s such an LGBTQ-friendly region with urban cultural sensibilities in the literary, visual and performing arts that especially appeal to local and visiting LGBTQ [people].” According to Heller, who also co-owns the Oasis with his husband of 29 years, Dave King, noted that the town has no

shortage of inclusion options for the gay community. “Some of these attractions include monthly artists’ open studio tours, literary & film festivals, a Circus Arts Academy where approximately 35 percent of the students and coaches are LGBTQ or are being raised in same-sex families, an annual LGBT film festival now in its 15th year, an annual fall literary festival and year-round men’s gatherings, workshops & retreats, [and] nearby LGBTQ beaches,” he said. “Also, as compared to the Deep South, our local churches sport rainbow flags.” Brattleboro has a thriving arts scene that cannot be over-emphasized, according to those working hand-in-hand with the campaign. “… Folks that identify as non-binary, alongside those that are akin to more ‘traditional’ LGBTQ identities, are front and center in the rich and highly visible arts and culture community here, contributing significantly to the almost countless cultural events that occur each year,” said members of the campaign. Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce executive director, Kate O'Connor, said Brattleboro is a top destination “with arts and entertainment that rivals any big city.” “In a nutshell, many LGBTQ-specific attractions and happenings plus plenty of things that resonate with the urban and non-urban LGBTQ sensibilities to create a unique and welcoming for out-of-towners in search of something fresh, contemporary and grounded in their sensibilities,” Heller explained. For those visiting the area over the six-

See Brattleboro On Page 12


10 • The Rainbow Times • TheRainbowTimesMass.com

February 6, 2020 - March 4, 2020

Merce, the HIV+ musical comedy series Positively returns for 2nd hilarious season By: Sean Larkin Special to TRT

Charles Sanchez keeps a framed Wheaties box of Greg Louganis in a Speedo above his desk. It includes an autograph by the Olympian that reads, "Charles, believe in yourself! Greg Louganis." “Believing in yourself sounds cheesy, but it's a must as a creative artist,” Sanchez reflects.

He should know. It took courage for him to create Merce, a musical comedy series that he not only stars in, but also writes and produces. He recalls being told over and over again that it couldn’t be done, but he knew he had to because the world needed a show like Merce. Merce is about a middle-aged, super-gay, HIV+ dude living in New York City, surRead the rest of this story via The Rainbow Times’ website

AMA - Health From Page 4 reparative therapies; • Gay men account for more than 2/3 of all people diagnosed with HIV each year in the United States, despite comprising only 2% of the general population; • Transgender people are 8 times more likely to report a suicide attempt in their life relative to cisgender people; • Policies that permit the denial of services to LGBTQ people are linked to a 46% increase in the proportion of gay, lesbian, & bisexual adults who report mental distress; • LGBT seniors are more likely to have poor general health, more chronic conditions, higher rates of disability & more psychological distress; • Lesbian & bisexual older women have higher rates of cardiovascular disease & are more likely than heterosexual women to have multiple chronic conditions In addition to the statistics, Payne added that these numbers, compounded with other factors (such as those experienced by race, gender, ethnic minority groups), further hinder the quality of health care for these groups. “ … the shortage of specially trained physicians in LGBTQ health underscores the immediate need for a national fellowship program promoting culturally competent medical care and prevention services,” Payne explained. Trans health care in Mass. An exclusive story (https://bit.ly/2UiekI3) in last mont’s issue

“INTERSECTIONAL ISSUES OF DISCRIMINATION, STIGMA, ACCESS TO & QUALITY OF CARE ARE EXPERIENCED AT A HIGHER RATE BY LGBT INDIVIDUALS ...” of The Rainbow Times (TRT) reported that only three Mass. healthcare facilities outside of Boston received the designation as “Leader in LGBTQ Healthcare Equality” (an LGBTQ health care measure by the HRC’s Health Equality Index tool): Cooley Dickinson Hospital out of Northampton, the Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center in Worcester and Health Quarters based in Beverly. Such numbers show an “alarming” need for competency Read the rest of this story via The Rainbow Times’ website

I’m a beautiful black queen living with HIV Positive Thoughts: Not a stigma, not anymore

By: Porchia Dees* Special to TRT

I

am a Beautiful Black Queen Living with HIV. It has taken a long time for me to come to terms with that statement, because the concepts of beauty and HIV don't usually go together. Growing up poz and trying to cope with the stigma surrounding my experience has been challenging, to say the least. I am a part of the first generation of children who were born positive. I was born Dec. 5, 1986. At the time, my biological mother was using drugs and heavy in her addiction. If it weren't for my aunt, who I call mom and who took legal guardianship of me, I don't think I would be here today. My pediatrician told my parents that he didn't think I'd live to see my 5th birthday, but clearly God had other plans. As a kid living with HIV, I was assigned a social worker who kept me involved in lots of events for children battling different lifethreatening diseases. I attended camp every summer, which gave me the chance to be around other kids who understood what I was going through. We all had our camp "crushes." But I would soon find out that dating at camp was a lot different from dating in the real world, and that the dating and hook-up guidelines we follow as a society are not inclusive of someone living with HIV—someone like me. My parents are old-school, African-American, super-

PHOTO: PORCHIA DEES

PHOTO: MERCETHESERIES.COM

religious types, so I never had the sex talk. My social worker at the hospital didn't say this to me directly, but in her attempt to educate me on HIV transmission, without realizing it, she led me to believe that I would never be able to have sex or have babies. And there was one huge thing she forgot to prepare me for: stigma. The next time I learned about HIV, I was a seventh grader in Sex Ed. It terrified me. I remember sitting in a classroom of about 30 kids, with the health educator showing *Read the rest of this story at: TheRainbowTimesMass.com


TheRainbowTimesMass.com • The Rainbow Times • 11

February 6, 2020 - March 4, 2020

Life in the Dollyverse ... Dolly Parton’s new Netflix series ‘Ms. Dolly’s’ LGBTQ-inclusive Netflix series is rooted in the ‘golden rule,’ according to the well-known artist, actor and performer By: Chris Azzopardi* Special to TRT

D

episode concludes that it’s the cheating men who are the real problem. Forbidden love is the crux of “Down from Dover,” centered on a young black soldier and a white reverend’s daughter during the Vietnam War. The lesson of the “Two Doors Down” episode is classic Dolly because it’s the gay one. If you’re a queer Dolly-head, you won’t be surprised to discover her introduction to the episode, which spotlights a same-sex love story. But your homophobic uncle might be—in fact, he

humanness, as queer writers on assignment huddled giddily in front of her, awe-stricken by the realness of a fake Dolly. I stood, out of body, piled into the country legend’s Chasing Rainb o w s Museum as the tech magic that is

PH O OT IX FL ET

:N

olly was there, almost, holding court despite her lack of humanness, as queer writers on assignment huddled giddily in front of her, awe-stricken by the realness of a fake Dolly. I stood, out of body, piled into the country legend’s Chasing Rainbows Museum as the tech magic that is Dolly Parton’s hologram welcomed me to a Dolly shrine, perhaps the most holy site I've seen since my parents took me to church as a kid. A regular experience at the museum, the 3D image of our honky-tonk goddess dovecoos about holding onto special memories and keepsakes; then, she asks you to remember one thing, breaking out some a cappella lines to let you know “that I will always love you.” She blows kisses and bids farewell: “I’m outta here,” she says. And poof, there she goes, melting into the most magical cloud of blue fairy dust, falling to the floor. Dolly transforms into a soaring butterfly. Because ... Dolly Parton. When human Dolly descended upon a conference room at her DreamMore Resort in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, it was like she’d just stepped out of a Saturday-morning cartoon—or out of that holographic screen. She whooshed into our room of

journalists with a hearty, “Well hello eve’ybody!” and zinged up to the front of a throng of already-seated journalists, making an astute observation on her jolly way: “Y’all like a bunch of kids: quiet, waiting for Ms. Dolly, Ms. Teacher, to come in.” Then Ms. Dolly got down to business, talking about her new Netflix anthology Heartstrings, where lessons are carefully taught with a steady hand and her unique ability to unify America, a topic recently explored in depth by Jad Abumrad on his podcast Dolly Parton’s America (having experienced Dollywood, including some of its otherworldly cinnamon bread, I can also say he’s spot on in coining her universe the “Dollyverse”). Expanding her ditties into full-on mini movies, the eight episodes produced for the series extend hearty lessons inspired by a mixture of both iconic and more obscure Dolly Parton songs; they gently and sneakily school the ignorant, the blissfully unaware and the downright bigoted, all told in Ms. Dolly’s preferred socio-political manner: through her stories. The “Jolene” episode tells the tale of the eponymous misunderstood woman that Dolly fears will take her man in the song (played by Julianne Hough), though the

might even finally learn what non-binary means and that transgender people are real people, all thanks to Ms. Dolly’s Queer 101 classroom introduction. Dolly was there, almost, holding court despite her lack of

Dolly Parton’s hologram welcomed me to a Dolly shrine, perhaps Read this story online at The Rainbow Times


12 • The Rainbow Times • TheRainbowTimesMass.com

Trans Youth From Page 3 matic worsening of their mental health at the onset of puberty, as their body develops in a way that is incongruent to who they know themselves to be. Puberty blockers can relieve this distress,” said Turban from MGH.

Brattleboro From Page 9 month LOVE BRATTLEBORO VT campaign, Heller encourages those to check out the drag show sponsored by the AIDS Project of Southern VT, LGBTQ Night at the Circus Spectacular & reception benefit, the Southern VT Dance Festival, the Ride with Pride Gay Cycling Tour, the “Tri-State” Gay Cycling Tour, and the 8th Annual Gay & LGBTQ Cross-Country Ski Weekend & Après-Ski Social Mixer. Other options to explore are Rock River Gay & LGBTQ Beaches, gay massage workshops & yoga retreats, LGBTQ Apple Cider-Making

February 6, 2020 - March 4, 2020

The study, also conducted by Turban and Keuroghlian, helped to realize significant discoveries. “Many transgender youth report that gender-affirming healthcare is life-saving in terms of their mental health,” said Turban. “Our recent study [https://bit.ly/37UrtLj] found that access to pubertal suppression Weekend, and scheduled monthly Gay & LGBTQ Social Gatherings. “Brattleboro is one of our favorite local destinations due to its eclectic vibe and folks from all kinds of backgrounds. It is a gem that isn’t always the obvious destination spot for those local and afar, but it should be,” said Alex Munroe, a Northampton Mass. resident. Home is where the love is. “I've lived all over the world—UK, Europe, Middle East, west coast, east coast, Midwest and Brattleboro is my personal favorite!” said Heller. “I've lived here longer than I've lived anywhere and this is home to me. “I came to visit in 1981, got hooked on the local friendly, alternative vibe, fell in love with a local man who is now my husband of 29 years and I'm still here living and loving the life.” To learn more about the LOVE BRATTLEBORO VT campaign, check out the full event listings at lovebrattleborovt.com.

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for those who desire it is associated with a lower odds of ever considering suicide.” Keuroghlian notes the dire odds revealed in it. “We found that approximately 9 out of 10 transgender adults who wanted pubertal suppression but did not receive it reported lifetime suicidal ideation.” Blockers aren’t a new concept According to Aleah Nesteby, MSN, FNP a provider at Cooley Dickinson’s Oxbow Primary Care, hormone blockers are not new or experimental. It is a type of medication called gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists, which are used for

identity. “As a society we have often conflated physical sex characteristics at birth with a person’s inner sense of their own gender,” said Keuroghlian. “For many transgender youth, pubertal suppression offers tremendous relief by ensuring they will not develop secondary sex characteristics inconsistent with their gender identity.” According to Nesteby, hormone blockers have been used for many years and serious side effects are rare. However, hormone blockers, she said, are just one component of a gender-affirming approach for trans kids. “Other components of a gender-affirm-

“OUR RECENT STUDY FOUND THAT ACCESS TO PUBERTAL SUPPRESSION FOR THOSE WHO DESIRE IT IS ASSOCIATED WITH A LOWER ODDS OF EVER CONSIDERING SUICIDE.” a variety of medical conditions. “These medications tell the pituitary gland in the brain to temporarily change the way it produces hormones,” she said. “This results in lower production of testosterone or estrogen. The hormone levels in the body will fall to pre-pubertal levels and stay there until the medication is stopped. Once the medication is stopped, testosterone or estrogen will begin to rise again and will eventually reach normal adult levels. This type of medication is also used for infertility treatments, treatment of endometriosis, and treatment of certain types of cancers. GnRH agonists are not new or experimental, and have been used in a lot of people.” Blockers also allow trans youth to have congruence that affirms their gender

ing approach include acceptance and support from family, teachers and community, plus letting the child tell us what they need in terms of name and pronouns to be used by them,” she said. Legislation that attempts to limit the health care of trans youth can have catastrophic repercussions for the trans youth and families that affirm them. “This bill [Rep. Daw’s bill] would punish these supportive families,” Florence wrote in the Tribune. “Parents would have to choose between the possibility of government prosecution or supporting the health and well-being of their transgender child.” Read the rest of this story at: The Rainbow TimesMass.com


February 6, 2020 - March 4, 2020

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14 • The Rainbow Times • TheRainbowTimesMass.com

February 6, 2020 - March 4, 2020

LGBTQ Puzzle February 2020: DJ Comes Out

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Down 1 Style Tracy Turnblad's hair 2 Come out correctly 3 Makes a Road Runner noise 4 Ruffles 5 Film noir poison 6 One who studies pansies 7 Bird feeder food 8 Period in David Kopay's sport 9 Without a scratch (or single to Gomer?) 10 Fred's first partner 11 Like a one-incher, in Dogpatch 12 Island necklace 13 FICA funds it 21 Jane Spahr's title 22 Mil. sub-division? 25 Gertrude's partner 26 "Lola" band 28 Baseball term 30 Proust's Remembrance of Things ___ 31 Razor choice 32 Like balls 33 Cruising, maybe 36 Manually stimulate? 38 Antifreeze ingredient 40 Rubber attachments 43 In difficult times 45 Charlotte's Web author 49 "Just ___ thought"

50 Liberace's nickname 52 Refine metal 54 Demanding standard 55 A marble player may shoot it off 56 Let fly 58 Beats, barely 59 Baudelaire's bag 60 Doe in Bambi 61 Dorm VIPs

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68 U-turn from NNW 69 Barrymore of Boys on the Side

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Across 1 F.W. Murnau film title that means "forbidden" 5 Network for The Ellen Show 8 DJ who just came out 14 Biblical garden 15 As ___ Like It 16 Garments for private showings 17 Fruity drinks 18 Had a meal 19 Earhart of the air 20 Dark fantasy with DJ 23 Beatles manager Brian 24 Barely move? 27 Easy-cook item 29 Hole edge for Sheehan 31 Sea bordering Kazakhstan 34 Kahlo's that 35 Bette in The Little Foxes 37 Tribal symbol 39 With 57- and 67-Across, alternate history series with DJ 41 Sargent and York 42 Apple or potato 44 Suffix with erect 46 Armless garment 47 Request for Vanna 48 Place to say "Ooh, long!" 51 Sprints at the Gay Games 53 Drop F-bombs on, e.g. 57 See 39-Across 59 Samantha's witchy cousin 62 Threesome on a sundial 63 It gets a gel hard 64 Not digital 65 %, briefly 66 One on Boulanger's staff? 67 See 39-Across

The Rainbow Times

SOLUTION


TheRainbowTimesMass.com • The Rainbow Times • 15

February 6, 2020 - March 4, 2020

Valentine’s Day: Do you celebrate it or not? Are you ready for it? By: Deja Nicole Greenlaw* TRT Columnist

I

TRANS OPINION

t’s February and that m e a n s Valentine’s Day is approaching. Valentine’s Day can be a wonderful day for couples expressing their love but how about those who are not in a relationship? It can be a tough day for those single folks. If you are a trans person it can be an even tougher day. I don’t know the percentage of unattached trans people as a whole, but I’m thinking that it’s most likely a higher percentage than that of cisgender people. Of course, there may be different statistics depending on age and other variables, but I would think that, as a whole, the percentage of trans single people is higher, especially that of older trans folk. The younger trans generation may have a better chance of being coupled as younger people overall seem to be more accepting of trans people. I notice more of them dating and finding love with younger trans folk, both on social media and in the people I personally come in contact within

my daily life. Of course, not every young trans person is part of a relationship, but I would think that the percentage is higher than that of older trans folk. When one dates one tends to date someone near their own age. Unfortunately, many older folks are not quite as accepting of trans people as younger folks are. This leaves a smaller pool of older individuals willing to date

more desirable as partners--in this binary society—than older people do. It’s a hard truth but a valid truth. On the bright side, I have seen more trans people in relationships now than in the past 20 years. I see more cisgender/transgender people relationships these days, which warms my heart. More married couples comprised of one transgender partner are

UNFORTUNATELY, MANY OLDER FOLKS ARE NOT QUITE AS ACCEPTING OF TRANS PEOPLE AS YOUNGER FOLKS ARE. trans people. To that, add the fact that the older trans people, especially those who transition later in life, may not look as feminine or as masculine as younger trans folks. The older trans person has had years of the wrong hormones working in their bodies, some even decades of them. As a result, they might not look as feminine or as masculine as younger folks who have had HRT earlier in life and could’ve even been placed on hormone blockers to keep them from showing characteristics innate to their assigned sex at birth. All in all, I dislike bringing up the subject of ageism, but generally speaking, young people look

staying together these days and more new cisgender/transgender relationships are occurring more frequently now. Of course, there are always trans/trans relationships, perhaps as many as there were in the past 20 years, and that’s a good sign too. It is getting better for us, but I think that on the whole, too many trans people still suffer from not being able to find a partner. I am one of the older trans people and I have had dates with cisgender men and even a summer romance one year with one cis man but everything was on the down low and most times my partners moved on to cis women rather than stayed with me. I

have had conversations with my dates and I have heard their fears of being “found out,” that is, being seen with a trans woman by their family and friends. One of my dates once told me that he could never, ever, bring me to meet his parents because of his parents’ disapproval of him dating a trans woman. That was a tough statement for me to hear, but I realized he was telling the truth. The older generations are less accepting of trans people dating or coupling with their children or other members of their family. That’s an awful statement but it’s also true. So, this Valentine’s Day I will treat it like any other day and just ignore the couples’ love theme. One bright spot is that the next day I can purchase leftover Valentine’s Day candy that didn’t sell for 40-50% off. LOL, that doesn’t take the sting out of the day but every little bit helps! If you do have a significant other and you do celebrate Valentine’s Day please enjoy the day and enjoy your partner. If you don’t celebrate the day and you don’t have a partner, I feel your pain. Maybe someday you will have someone to call your own when the stigma of coupling with a trans person has subsided. Hopefully, someday soon it won’t be an issue at all. *Deja Nicole Greenlaw is retired from 3M and has 3 children and two grandchildren. She can be contacted here via e-mail at dejavudeja@sbcglobal.net.

5 retail replacements that should satisfy your urge to splurge If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to live better but spend less, consider these retail replacement tips that accomplish just that.

1. Private Label Organic Food vs. Major Brand Organics I buy organic when it makes financial sense or when it’s the only choice I have, but I don’t seek organic labels. Mostly because national-brand organic options are still quite expensive compared to their conventional counterparts, and I’ve eaten non-organic food for the past 38 years of my life so the proverbial “damage” is done at this point. If you’re an organic-food loyalist, however, shopping at discounts grocers like Aldi will help you cut back on the high cost of certified foods—despite that you might have to dig through the expiring produce to find an edible specimen. 2. Expanding Your Search Area When Buying a New Home I’m not someone who’s going to advocate renting over buying in any case; I wholly be-lieve that home ownership and real estate is one of the last bastions of the American dream. Instead, when searching for a home that has everything you could want, including a sky-high price attached

PHOTO: CLAY BANKS / UNSPLASH

THE FRIVOLIST

By: Mikey Rox* Special to TRT

to it, why not consider something equally attractive (if not better) in a different market with lower prices? Compare property rental and buying prices per square foot between the firstchoice loca-tion and the bordering cities or counties (or state, if practical) then calculate transporta-tion costs to work, amenities, family and friends. For example, many people who work in Baltimore City or Baltimore County actually live in Pennsylva-

nia, where they can pur-chase more house and upgrades for the same or less money than comparable homes and neighborhoods in Maryland. 3. Home Furnishing Resale Shops vs. Major Furniture Retailers Before you head out to the big-box stores for your new bedroom or living room set, take a stroll through some of your local furniture resale shops. Sometimes they have hidden gems—better-quality pieces for a fraction of the cost—that can save you a bundle over higher-end retailers’ prices. I always hit up stores like HomeSense and Big Lots, and check the clearance section of IKEA and browse Facebook Marketplace before I ever step foot into a dedicated furniture store. The result is often something much quirkier, cooler and cheaper than I would have found at a warehouse or department store. 4. Stocking Up on Quality Meats and Champagne During Holiday Sales Want to dine like a prince all year round on the budget of a pauper? Stock up on indul-gent food items like premium cuts of meat, seafood and champagne during sales, which are popular around the holidays, including after the upcoming Valentine’s holiday. Holiday sales events in grocery stores offer you an average of 67% savings on those decadent steaks, whole rib roasts, shrimp, lobster and champagne.

These are of-ten loss leaders and featured on the front page of the sales circulars during the week lead-ing up to the holiday. Enjoy the week the sale hits for the holiday event, plus stock your freezer with savings for more splurges in between. 5. Pre-Owned Electronics vs. New-inBox Devices Is it important for you to have a new-inbox phone or tablet, or can you handle a previ-ously owned version, which is in like-new condition, for a huge percentage less than the never-been-used version? If you want to save a substantial amount of money, you’ll opt for the latter. One outlet where you can score previously owned, inexcellent-condition devices is Gazelle.com. These gently used devices go through a 30-plus-point inspection process to make sure that they are as like-new as possible, and can be purchased for a significant savings when compared to buying new. For example, Gazelle is selling an iPhone 11 64GB starting at $549. New from Apple, the same device would cost $699. Decent enough difference to consider the refurb. *Mikey Rox is an award-winning journalist and LGBT lifestyle expert whose work has been published in more than 100 outlets across the world. He currently lives in his van, saving money and traveling the country. Connect with Mikey on Instagram @mikeyroxtravels.


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February 6, 2020 - March 4, 2020

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