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Added a post  to  , lgbtqia

Originally Posted on January 30, 2019.  All photographs provided by: The Larson Lens, LLC

Prelude:

For much of December and January, Huntington Woods Library's "Drag Queen Storytime" was under attack by forces of bigotry within, and without, the local community. It began with City Commissioner Allison Iversen, whose emails about the event included the following "I have been trying to get this stopped since it started. Please do get more people involved. I am one voice and we need many people to call this out for what it is." That leak prompted a City Commission meeting where residents of Huntington Woods showed overwhelming support for the program.

"The results that have been achieved by Drag QUEEN Storytime is statistical truth to the desire of Huntington Woods and surrounding cities, which was echoed by community member after community member, at last month's City Commission meeting. There is a waiting list for the event, and ONE letter of opposition that was the only letter sent to the Mayor's office. The community has spoken, HATE chooses NOT to hear them,” stated Jey'nce Poindexter, Founder of Trans Sistas of Color Project - Detroit and Board Member of Women's March, MI, who was in attendance at the meeting. Allison Iversen would resign early on December 18th, with her bid to end Storytime failing. 

The results have been readily apparent. Joyce Krom, the librarian organizing Storytime, has been assembling wildly successful events, with 100 attendees at her first event and a perpetual waiting list since. "We strive to support all children in our community, one of our top priorities is to be welcoming and inclusive, and always work toward creating a more equitable society," Krom told MDPAN, when describing the purpose behind Drag Queen Storytime. Miss Raven Divine Cassadine, a regular host of Storytime, was leading the reading on January 26th. "I think that it’s very important that we teach the importance of reading to the children and acceptance for everyone regardless of race, sex or gender," expounded Miss Raven, on why she stays involved.

image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=121&dpx=1&t=1589040600You said it, doc. 

Despite all these triumphs, Poindexter was astute to point out that hate wasn't listening. In her emails, Iversen put out a call for greater involvement in shutting down the event. Tennessee-based hate group Warriors for Christ answered that call. Their founder, Rich Penkoski, placed his ignorance on public display when describing his reasons for protesting the event "Parents that bring their kids to this, you can say what you want, but a transgender 4-year-old is like a vegan cat. We know who's making the lifestyle choices for that cat and that child. Children should be left alone." This group has attempted frivolous lawsuits in Louisiana, where they booked space in the library, then proceeded to intimidate participants (some as young as 3) and filmed the Story Hour without permission. Upon encountering consequences for this behavior, they filed suit claiming their First Amendment rights were infringed upon. 

MDPAN was one of the organizations asked to come out and support the event, and proceeded to call the banners of the Motor City Sisters, GNA, TSOCP, TGDetroit, Planned Parenthood, American Atheists, and Ferndale Pride. With local organizing provided by Sara Smith, the inaugural Queensguard was formed. It's mission: protect children, their families and the Queens from hate speech and other attacks, allowing Drag Queen Storytime to continue unhindered. 

image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=122&dpx=1&t=1589040640Queensguard logo created by MDPAN Art Director Kelly Clawson. 

January 26th, 1:30 PM, pre-event defense.

The forces of hate had an early start to the day. A group of 8 well-dressed bourgeoisie formed the "Michigan Mass Resistance", an anti-LGBTQIA group who also threatened to protest the event. They stood near the entrance, inviting passersby to pray the rosary for an imagined corruption of children. They were being interviewed by the Church Militant, a Ferndale-based group that abandoned all the class consciousness of the Game of Thrones group they copied, but kept the bigotry. South of them, along the sidewalk, were a pack of six men in hoodies, several of which read "Proud Boys" along the chest, and another in a red "Make America Great Again" sweatshirt. Warriors for Christ, numbering 6, were the last to arrive, but were very proud of their custom jumpsuits. 

image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=124&dpx=1&t=1589040730Somebody paid money for those 

On the other side of the wall, Queensguard had amassed over 100 supporters with almost an hour left until the 3 PM event start time. An experienced and capable bunch, they immediately took the front line, bedecked and bedazzled in rainbows, facepaint, and a gigantic array of custom signs, plus a bunch more donated by Planned Parenthood and American Atheists. The lime-capped bigot opened proceedings declaring shame and eternal hellfire on the supporters for helping corrupt the minds of children. Queensguard responded to that verbal assault with a thundering chorus of "Love Not Hate" and "Hate Go Home".

As more supporters rolled in between 2 and 3 PM, eventually exceeding 200, Warriors for Christ decided to target specific marginalized groups during their raving. "Everyone wants to be gay, but nobody wants the AIDs," was one such example, noted by a local member of the gay community. Others reported Islamaphobic comments, and a bizarre obsession with adult diapers. As volunteers with ample cellphone batteries teamed with supporters carrying a portable speaker, the screech of bigotry was deadened by the speaker and the crowd erupting into Barney's "I Love You".

image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=125&dpx=1&t=1589040790At the very least, there's love on the left. Rich Penkoski will be furthest right. 

2:45 PM - Showtime

Parents and their kids arrived for Storytime. One participant in the Queensguard had a basket full of flowers with ribbon and a positive, affirming message attached for each child attending. MDPAN's Lead Marshall, wearing a rainbow cape, topped with a pink wig, brought popular children's books to pass out to each young person who could make it for Storytime. When it came time to enter the library, all 200+ of the Queensguard did their best Red Sea impression, parting to provide safe passage and booming cheers for standing up to hate.

One parent would later remark "Uh oh, I hope my kid's not expecting a present and cheering every time we go to one of these."

image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=126&dpx=1&t=1589040987

The Proud Boys made a considerable effort to distance themselves from Warriors for Christ, milling around on the sidewalk South of the parking lot. Unfortunately, the majority of the parents were entering from that direction. Red Orchestra (RO) provided volunteers for the demonstration to ward off attacks, verbal or otherwise, from the hate groups present. It should be noted the Proud Boys were briefly added to the FBI's terror watchlist, and have strong ties to the recently arrested Roger Stone. RO took the point on the South end of the parking lot to ensure no parents would be accosted, with significant success.

Meanwhile, at the wall, the Southernmost member of the Queensguard embarked on a special mission. Matthew Kinne is an attorney that's traveled nationwide trying to stop WfC's campaign of hate against any number of genders greater than two. He brought a large thermos full of hot water, and an entire case of hot chocolate powder with balloons tied to it. Kinne attempted to have a frank, calm dialogue and perhaps a declaration of piece. Instead, the Warriors for Christ speaker rejected the gift, and proceeded to point at trans members of Queensguard and deliberately misgender them, including comments like "God will make a man out of you!" (EDIT: 2/21/19) Kinne's mission was successful, with the Southern Poverty Law Center granting the "anti-LGBT hate group" designation to Warriors for Christ. Following the news, WfC Patriarch Rich Penkoski posted a video saltier than Lot's wife on their decision to abandon their base in West Virginia. 

image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=127&dpx=1&t=1589041096What heathen would turn down hot cocoa on a day like this? 

While everyone was dressed in their Pride parade best, it was the Motor City Sisters taking everyone's breath away. With Warriors for Christ targeting individuals among the Queensguard with hate speech, Sister Misty Meanor sprung into action. Clothed as the Virgin Mary, or at least the second part, she bravely strode to the front of the line, directly in front of the bigots. From there, she turned her back to hate and let her habit fly, supported by a pair of nearby Queensguard. Golden and blue light from the fabric completely covered the megaphone operator in Warriors for Christ from view, muffling his speech in the process.

image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=128&dpx=1&t=1589041213Not pictured: A very frustrated bigot.

Despite WfC's leader, Rich Penkoski, saying children should be left alone in his attacks on Drag Queen Storytime, the families participating were the next major targets of the group. A barrage of vitriol eschewed from their megaphone, attempting to tell children as young as 3 that their parents were going to make them go to hell. 

Fortunately, the Queensguard was more than prepared to counter. A few clicks and swipes on a cell phone had "Baby Shark" blaring through a portable speaker, with other activists holding the mic from their megaphones up to the speaker, creating a surround sound effect focused directly on the religious zealot screaming at 4-year-olds. Swaying like the waves of the ocean, all 200+ of the Queensguard lifted their voices to the heavens, belting out every "doo doo dodo do do" along the way. Paralyzed with involuntary laughter, WfC's mouthpiece did the one thing no one expected: he stopped talking. 

 At this time, the Proud Boys skulked off, and members of RO took point at the neighborhood intersections to ensure their preferred tactic of jumping lone activists post-event would fail.

image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=129&dpx=1&t=1589041270Unrelated to the previous paragraphs, but these are some excellent signs 

3:30 PM - Exit, stage left.

RO provided escort detail for families or members of Queensguard walking to their cars alone or in a small group. Thanks to the (baby) shark attack, the primary threat of WfC was effectively diminished. All families were able to return to their cars safely. 

It was at this point it became apparent how overwhelming the support for Drag Queen Storytime was in the Huntington Woods community. Mayor Paul stood in the supporters camp, joined by recently elected City Commissioner Michelle Elder, who replaced Allison Iversen. The literature didn't stop with just the kids, either, as many of the organizations present educational pamphlets to distribute. Joyce Krom joined the exit procession for a bit, making sure to meet one of the illustrious Motor City Sisters:

image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=130&dpx=1&t=1589041307

After an impromptu dance party to finish the successful defense, the principal organizers started returning to their vehicles. However, there was a bit of a standoff as everyone departed. "We stayed with the last protester on site because they were parked in front of the WfC people and didn't want to be seen getting in their car by them," reports Gloom, a member of RO and JBGC. Both sides stared each other down for a few minutes, then back-up arrived from other organizers who just finished packing up. The WfC pick-up sped off at the sight of greater numbers and all returned safely.

MDPAN is please to report zero arrest and zero instances of violence, and would like to thank Red Orchestra and all experienced protesters who helped keep it that way.

More information about the Proud Boys can be found here.

#pride #PlannedParenthood #proudboys #warriorsforchrist

Added an event  to  , lgbtqia
21 Jun 20
200 East Colfax Avenue, Denver, CO, United States
Added a post  to  , lgbtqia

Originally Posted on January 30, 2019.  All photographs provided by: The Larson Lens, LLC

Prelude:

For much of December and January, Huntington Woods Library's "Drag Queen Storytime" was under attack by forces of bigotry within, and without, the local community. It began with City Commissioner Allison Iversen, whose emails about the event included the following "I have been trying to get this stopped since it started. Please do get more people involved. I am one voice and we need many people to call this out for what it is." That leak prompted a City Commission meeting where residents of Huntington Woods showed overwhelming support for the program.

"The results that have been achieved by Drag QUEEN Storytime is statistical truth to the desire of Huntington Woods and surrounding cities, which was echoed by community member after community member, at last month's City Commission meeting. There is a waiting list for the event, and ONE letter of opposition that was the only letter sent to the Mayor's office. The community has spoken, HATE chooses NOT to hear them,” stated Jey'nce Poindexter, Founder of Trans Sistas of Color Project - Detroit and Board Member of Women's March, MI, who was in attendance at the meeting. Allison Iversen would resign early on December 18th, with her bid to end Storytime failing. 

The results have been readily apparent. Joyce Krom, the librarian organizing Storytime, has been assembling wildly successful events, with 100 attendees at her first event and a perpetual waiting list since. "We strive to support all children in our community, one of our top priorities is to be welcoming and inclusive, and always work toward creating a more equitable society," Krom told MDPAN, when describing the purpose behind Drag Queen Storytime. Miss Raven Divine Cassadine, a regular host of Storytime, was leading the reading on January 26th. "I think that it’s very important that we teach the importance of reading to the children and acceptance for everyone regardless of race, sex or gender," expounded Miss Raven, on why she stays involved.

image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=121&dpx=1&t=1589040600You said it, doc. 

Despite all these triumphs, Poindexter was astute to point out that hate wasn't listening. In her emails, Iversen put out a call for greater involvement in shutting down the event. Tennessee-based hate group Warriors for Christ answered that call. Their founder, Rich Penkoski, placed his ignorance on public display when describing his reasons for protesting the event "Parents that bring their kids to this, you can say what you want, but a transgender 4-year-old is like a vegan cat. We know who's making the lifestyle choices for that cat and that child. Children should be left alone." This group has attempted frivolous lawsuits in Louisiana, where they booked space in the library, then proceeded to intimidate participants (some as young as 3) and filmed the Story Hour without permission. Upon encountering consequences for this behavior, they filed suit claiming their First Amendment rights were infringed upon. 

MDPAN was one of the organizations asked to come out and support the event, and proceeded to call the banners of the Motor City Sisters, GNA, TSOCP, TGDetroit, Planned Parenthood, Refuse Fascism, American Atheists, and Ferndale Pride. With local organizing provided by Sara Smith, the inaugural Queensguard was formed. It's mission: protect children, their families and the Queens from hate speech and other attacks, allowing Drag Queen Storytime to continue unhindered. 

image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=122&dpx=1&t=1589040640Queensguard logo created by MDPAN Art Director Kelly Clawson. 

January 26th, 1:30 PM, pre-event defense.

The forces of hate had an early start to the day. A group of 8 well-dressed bourgeoisie formed the "Michigan Mass Resistance", an anti-LGBTQIA group who also threatened to protest the event. They stood near the entrance, inviting passersby to pray the rosary for an imagined corruption of children. They were being interviewed by the Church Militant, a Ferndale-based group that abandoned all the class consciousness of the Game of Thrones group they copied, but kept the bigotry. South of them, along the sidewalk, were a pack of six men in hoodies, several of which read "Proud Boys" along the chest, and another in a red "Make America Great Again" sweatshirt. Warriors for Christ, numbering 6, were the last to arrive, but were very proud of their custom jumpsuits. 

image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=124&dpx=1&t=1589040730Somebody paid money for those 

On the other side of the wall, Queensguard had amassed over 100 supporters with almost an hour left until the 3 PM event start time. An experienced and capable bunch, they immediately took the front line, bedecked and bedazzled in rainbows, facepaint, and a gigantic array of custom signs, plus a bunch more donated by Planned Parenthood and American Atheists. The lime-capped bigot opened proceedings declaring shame and eternal hellfire on the supporters for helping corrupt the minds of children. Queensguard responded to that verbal assault with a thundering chorus of "Love Not Hate" and "Hate Go Home".

As more supporters rolled in between 2 and 3 PM, eventually exceeding 200, Warriors for Christ decided to target specific marginalized groups during their raving. "Everyone wants to be gay, but nobody wants the AIDs," was one such example, noted by a local member of the gay community. Others reported Islamaphobic comments, and a bizarre obsession with adult diapers. As volunteers with ample cellphone batteries teamed with supporters carrying a portable speaker, the screech of bigotry was deadened by the speaker and the crowd erupting into Barney's "I Love You".

image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=125&dpx=1&t=1589040790At the very least, there's love on the left. Rich Penkoski will be furthest right. 

2:45 PM - Showtime

Parents and their kids arrived for Storytime. One participant in the Queensguard had a basket full of flowers with ribbon and a positive, affirming message attached for each child attending. MDPAN's Lead Marshall, wearing a rainbow cape, topped with a pink wig, brought popular children's books to pass out to each young person who could make it for Storytime. When it came time to enter the library, all 200+ of the Queensguard did their best Red Sea impression, parting to provide safe passage and booming cheers for standing up to hate.

One parent would later remark "Uh oh, I hope my kid's not expecting a present and cheering every time we go to one of these."

image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=126&dpx=1&t=1589040987

The Proud Boys made a considerable effort to distance themselves from Warriors for Christ, milling around on the sidewalk South of the parking lot. Unfortunately, the majority of the parents were entering from that direction. Red Orchestra (RO) provided volunteers for the demonstration to ward off attacks, verbal or otherwise, from the hate groups present. It should be noted the Proud Boys were briefly added to the FBI's terror watchlist, and have strong ties to the recently arrested Roger Stone. RO took the point on the South end of the parking lot to ensure no parents would be accosted, with significant success.

Meanwhile, at the wall, the Southernmost member of the Queensguard embarked on a special mission. Matthew Kinne is an attorney that's traveled nationwide trying to stop WfC's campaign of hate against any number of genders greater than two. He brought a large thermos full of hot water, and an entire case of hot chocolate powder with balloons tied to it. Kinne attempted to have a frank, calm dialogue and perhaps a declaration of piece. Instead, the Warriors for Christ speaker rejected the gift, and proceeded to point at trans members of Queensguard and deliberately misgender them, including comments like "God will make a man out of you!" (EDIT: 2/21/19) Kinne's mission was successful, with the Southern Poverty Law Center granting the "anti-LGBT hate group" designation to Warriors for Christ. Following the news, WfC Patriarch Rich Penkoski posted a video saltier than Lot's wife on their decision to abandon their base in West Virginia. 

image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=127&dpx=1&t=1589041096What heathen would turn down hot cocoa on a day like this? 

While everyone was dressed in their Pride parade best, it was the Motor City Sisters taking everyone's breath away. With Warriors for Christ targeting individuals among the Queensguard with hate speech, Sister Misty Meanor sprung into action. Clothed as the Virgin Mary, or at least the second part, she bravely strode to the front of the line, directly in front of the bigots. From there, she turned her back to hate and let her habit fly, supported by a pair of nearby Queensguard. Golden and blue light from the fabric completely covered the megaphone operator in Warriors for Christ from view, muffling his speech in the process.

image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=128&dpx=1&t=1589041213Not pictured: A very frustrated bigot.

Despite WfC's leader, Rich Penkoski, saying children should be left alone in his attacks on Drag Queen Storytime, the families participating were the next major targets of the group. A barrage of vitriol eschewed from their megaphone, attempting to tell children as young as 3 that their parents were going to make them go to hell. 

Fortunately, the Queensguard was more than prepared to counter. A few clicks and swipes on a cell phone had "Baby Shark" blaring through a portable speaker, with other activists holding the mic from their megaphones up to the speaker, creating a surround sound effect focused directly on the religious zealot screaming at 4-year-olds. Swaying like the waves of the ocean, all 200+ of the Queensguard lifted their voices to the heavens, belting out every "doo doo dodo do do" along the way. Paralyzed with involuntary laughter, WfC's mouthpiece did the one thing no one expected: he stopped talking. 

 At this time, the Proud Boys skulked off, and members of RO took point at the neighborhood intersections to ensure their preferred tactic of jumping lone activists post-event would fail.

image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=129&dpx=1&t=1589041270Unrelated to the previous paragraphs, but these are some excellent signs 

3:30 PM - Exit, stage left.

RO provided escort detail for families or members of Queensguard walking to their cars alone or in a small group. Thanks to the (baby) shark attack, the primary threat of WfC was effectively diminished. All families were able to return to their cars safely. 

It was at this point it became apparent how overwhelming the support for Drag Queen Storytime was in the Huntington Woods community. Mayor Paul stood in the supporters camp, joined by recently elected City Commissioner Michelle Elder, who replaced Allison Iversen. The literature didn't stop with just the kids, either, as many of the organizations present educational pamphlets to distribute. Joyce Krom joined the exit procession for a bit, making sure to meet one of the illustrious Motor City Sisters:

image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=130&dpx=1&t=1589041307

After an impromptu dance party to finish the successful defense, the principal organizers started returning to their vehicles. However, there was a bit of a standoff as everyone departed. "We stayed with the last protester on site because they were parked in front of the WfC people and didn't want to be seen getting in their car by them," reports Gloom, a member of RO and JBGC. Both sides stared each other down for a few minutes, then back-up arrived from other organizers who just finished packing up. The WfC pick-up sped off at the sight of greater numbers and all returned safely.

MDPAN is please to report zero arrest and zero instances of violence, and would like to thank Red Orchestra, JBGC and all experienced protesters who helped keep it that way.

More information about the Proud Boys can be found here.

Disclaimer: While MDPAN wholeheartedly believes in the mission of antifascism, and is happy to work with groups under that banner, it is not itself an Antifa collective. All information was gathered and compiled by Red Orchestra. Please direct any questions, or supplementary information, to those sources.

#pride #PlannedParenthood #proudboys #warriorsforchrist

Added a post  to  , lgbtqia

Originally Posted February 11, 2018

Bill 5550 has been proposed to the Michigan House of Representatives amid Metro-Detroit Political Action Network's (MDPAN) protest that Metro City Church is hosting conversion therapy sessions for teenage girls. The bill, introduced by Ann Arbor Rep. Adam Zemke, seeks to make Michigan the tenth state to ban conversion therapy (attempts to reorient LGBTQIA individuals to a hetero/cis gender and sexuality dynamic) by mental health professionals. Zemke is joined Brownstown Rep. Darrin Camilleri in calls to remove the practice. Camilleri is also demanding MI Attorney General Bill Schuette investigate the Church for any deceptive and unconscionable practices under the MI Consumer Protection Act.

The protest, organized in under a week by MDPAN, began with author Sara Cunningham's posting of Metro City Church's $200 workshop for teenage girls struggling with gender and sexuality identity. The activist group quickly mobilized. Spearheaded by LGBTQIA chair Brianna Dee Kingsley and Meeko Williams, the protest drew roughly 300 to the Riverview church to support those teenage girls pressured to attend the workshop, and condemning any abuse visited upon them by church staff.

One such tale of abuse was suffered by Seth Tooley, a 17-year-old transgender man, who attended a similar workshop by the church four years prior. Kim Tooley, Seth's mother, told the Detroit Free Press "My son had three adults laying hands on him — (he was) screaming so loud I heard him from the other room — praying that God will deliver him from (the homosexuality) demon". The abuse continued as the church insisted on deadnaming Seth, demanding he dress as a female, and subsequently banned him from a boy youth group within the church. 

With Seth's experience as a focal point, MDPAN rallied LGBTQIA community leaders such as Kingsley and Williams, Jey'nce Poindexter (Equality MI, Trans Sistas of Color Project), Char and Esther Davenport (National LGBTQ Task Force), Rev. Roland Stringfellow (Metropolitan Community Church), Pastor Tray Smith (Faith Christian Community Church) spoke alongside Seth himself. The crowd gathered had time to share their stories, an improptu speaking circle lead by Williams also shed light on the experiences of James Williams and Matt Mayes, among others.

Jeremy Schossau, founder and head pastor of Metro City Church, denies these workshops feature conversion therapy. However, the Church's partnership with FORGE (Families Obediently Restoring Godly Education) Ministries suggests otherwise. A non-profit based in Texas, they bill themselves as a champion of Christian family values. Biblical verses pepper their organizational values, highlighting Mark 10:6 "But at the beginning of creation God made them male and female," and Genesis 1:28 "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth." These passages forming a core of the ministry's ethos proves troubling, especially for the mental health of LGBTQIA teens, already at risk for suicide attempts at a rate five times higher than hetero/cis teens.

More dubious still, the workshop is explicitly designed for girls, but lead by men. Schossau's dismissive social media comments suggest a belief that homosexuality is comparable to a drug addiction, or obesity. The logical extension of FORGE Ministry's philosophy demands there be a rigid gender binary, and that women are tasked with breeding as their primary function. When taken with Seth's account of abuse, this workshop (and others like it), can cause long term psychological damage for attending girls. 

GLSEN Southeast Michigan, Ruth Ellis Center, Equality MI and Affirmations have reached out while the protest was developing to offer resources for any teens struggling with LGBTQIA identity, especially those who went to conversion therapy sessions like Metro City Church's.

MDPAN is taking a stand against these torturous practices. Call your state reps and tell them to back MI House Bill 5550 and make this state the tenth to outlaw conversion therapy! Join the protest next Thursday the 15th in Riverview as the call continues to shutdown Metro City Church's workshop. 

ministries 

Added a post  to  , lgbtqia

Originally Posted on May 9, 2017

On a sunny Sunday in May, over one hundred people gathered in Ferndale's Geary Park to show support for LGBTQIA solidarity. Spurred to action by bathroom bills, executive orders and lifetimes of discrimination, these centurions of love marched from 9 Mile and up Woodward, shouting "black, white, gay, straight, love does not discriminate!", "out of the closet and into the streets" and "they say get out, we say come out!" At their head was a Silverado steed, the standard bearer, waving flags for gay and trans equality while blaring upbeat tunes ranging from Jimi Hendrix to Avenged Sevenfold. The reaction from the streets of Ferndale was a chorus of cheers, car horns honking, a few confused looks and dozens of cell phones set to record.

Organized by the Metro-Detroit Political Action Network (MDPAN), the rally began at 5 PM. Protestors trickled over the next hour, meeting the various partner groups in attendance and learning new ways to get involved. Pictures were taken, jokes shared and signs made. In attendance were representatives from Refuse Fascism, Michigan for Choice, Fair Michigan, No Space for Hate, Taking Back Orange, GLSEN, and Bill Cobbs; a candidate for governor. At 6:30, everyone gathered at the pavilion for the rally to begin.

Adriene Avripas, leader of MDPAN, marshalled the speakers and commanded the megaphone. First on the docket was Joseph Fournier, who explained MDPAN's mission and the desire to fight for more stringent discrimination laws against businesses who fire people due to their gender or sexuality. Vicki represented Refuse Fascism and delivered an incendiary speech about how Trump targets one minority at a time, in an attempt turn us against each other. Jenny Elgin introduced No Space for Hate, a group of parents fighting for acceptance for the world their children will inhabit.

Bill Cobbs, a Navy veteran, spoke on how hard it is to find love in this world and that no one has a right to determine what partners a person can and cannot be with. Rachel Montgomery represented Michigan for Choice, which fights against government actions that strip citizens of their right to healthcare and safe family planning services. Dana Nessel and Jamie Powell, of Fair Michigan, teamed to inform the audience that Michigan does not consider violence against gay and trans people as a hate crime. However, their firm is still tracking those instances of violence and stands ready to prosecute once the necessary laws are passed

 

Equality Michigan continued the theme of protecting legal rights for LGBTQIA individuals, and also providing outreach for those afflicted with HIV. Brianna Kingsley spoke for GLSEN, an organization dedicated to providing a safe environment for students of all genders and sexualities at the K-12 education level. Adriene also pulled double duty, promoting the silent protest of Taking Back Orange and the SlutWalk, MDPAN's August event tackling rape culture and violence against women. Robert Fidler, of MDPAN, closed out the proceedings for the scheduled speakers, delivering a chilling account of the Chechnya pogrom against homosexuals and using it to inspire allies to action. After a couple impromptu speakers, it was time for Love is Love to take to the streets.

 

Those who stayed at Geary Park were treated to a concert, courtesy of Dave Toennies from Border Patrol. He played a few personal numbers that were inspired by the shock and rage following the election of Donald Trump. The Detroit Light Brigade augmented the performance with custom signs for the event. Die hards who stuck out the rally 'til the end were treated to Dave leading an improvised chorus of Nat King Cole's "L-O-V-E", amplified by volunteers holding the Light Brigade's display. 

MDPAN would also like to thank the Ferndale Police Dept. for ensuring protestors had safe conduct throughout the march, and Geary Park for the use of the facilities.

 

Added a post  to  , lgbtqia

Originally Posted on August 22, 2017

After a twenty year battle, the LGBTQIA community of Jackson, MI scored its first major legislative victory on February 7th, with the passage of a Non-Discrimination Ordinance (NDO) that protects Jackson residents from being discriminated against based on gender and sexual orientation in employment, housing and public accomodations. While met with resistance from almost 1,000 petitioners, Judge Thomas Wilson upheld the NDO and invalidated the petitions, based on alterations to signatures made after filing them. 

On August 5th, the community came together in celebration at Jackson's first ever LGBTQIA pride festival. Marching through the city's downtown area at noon, the jubilant affair included drag queen pageants and extravaganzas, a dance party and amounts of glitter only measurable in metric tons. 

That glow was forced to fade when the home of Nikki Joly and partner Chris Moore was burned down on August 10th. Joly, American Red Cross worker and founder of the Jackson Pride Center, is an ardent proponent of the NDO and a principal organizer of the Pride festival. While Joly and Moore were not harmed, their two dogs and three cats were locked inside and killed by the blaze. Two firefighters who responded to the blaze also suffered minor injuries.

In an interview on WLNS, Jackson Police and Fire Chief Elmer Hitt stated "The investigation is indicating there was an accelerant most likely used," and that local authorities are looking at this as a potential arson case. "People are motivated for different reasons. At this point, it’s too early in the investigation to know." 

To date, there is no official confirmation on the identity or location of the perpetrator, or stated motivation. However, the attack occurred a mere five days after the Pride festival.

In response, the community has rallied around Joly and Moore, hosting a successful fundraiser on August 15th at St. John's United Church of Christ/United Center. The support continues on August 26th at Partners in Battle Creek, with a fundraising drag show:
 

The arson investigation is still ongoing, if you have any information, please report it to the Jackson Police Department at 517-788-4100 or Crime Stoppers at 517-483-STOP.

Added a post  to  , lgbtqia

Originally Posted on May 5, 2017 

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June 26th, 2015 seems like a long time ago. That was the day the Supreme Court ruled states cannot ban same sex marriage. Now, almost two years later, LGBT rights are back in the crosshairs. Legislatures in Texas, Arkansas and North Carolina are attempting to push discriminatory bathroom bills against the transgender community, forcing them to use restrooms according to the sex listed on their birth certificate. Should this become law nationally, trans men like Buck Angel would be legally mandated to use the women's room.  

Elsewhere, in Alabama, some county judges have refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, citing a legal precedent enacted in 1961 to preserve segregation. Anti-LGBT sentiment is ramping up globally, with the Chechen government enacting a pogrom against it's gay citizens. Given the potential collusion between the US executive branch and Russia, there's ample cause for concern. 

If these, or any other issues threatening the LGBTQIA community concern you, come join the Love is Love March in Ferndale this Sunday, May 8, in Geary Park between 5-9 PM and turn the White House rainbow again! Hosted by MDPAN, this event seeks to bolster solidarity between those marginalized by their gender and sexuality. We march against the hatred and bigotry of those who forced so many to hide their true selves, for threat of alienation, persecution and violence. 

 

We won't be alone at the march, the following groups will have tables set up for those who want to get more involved, and speakers too!

- Taking Back Orange: A means for silent protest against Trump and his cabinet.
- Putting the People First: Bill Cobb's campaign for Governor of MI, who agreed to speak at the event. His platform focuses on improved education and clean, affordable water for all of Michigan.
- Planned Parenthood: Providing essential services for reproductive and general health, in danger of losing funding under the current regime.
- No Space for Hate: A group of activist parents local to Ferndale who fight discrimination in Metro Detroit.
- Studio 416
- GLSEN - Southeast Michigan: This organization works to create a safe space for LGBTQIA youth in schools.
- Detroit Light Brigade: An illuminating art group, will be providing a light demonstration after the march.  

Last, but certainly not least, MDPAN's own Donnie Nuggets will be making an appearance!

#TakingBackOrange

 

 

Added a post  to  , lgbtqia

Originally posted June 12, 2017

Cover photo credit: Dave Frenkel. The following is a transcript for a speech delivered at MDPAN's "Love is Love" March in Ferndale, MI on May 7: 

I’d like to thank everyone for coming out today to celebrate the right to love! It took a long time for marriage to get legalized, and now the current regime threatens to roll that progress back. Bathroom bills threaten the trans community and this latest executive order is making all the wrong people happy. Worse still, the pogrom in Chechnya presents a grim potential future should this hate continue unchecked.

The pogrom began with GayRussia, an LGBT rights group, trying to obtain permits for pride marches, much like we’re doing right here. What followed was the Chechen security service enacting, what they termed, a “prophylactic sweep” on homosexuals.

Maksim, an alias used by a citizen of Chechnya, was one such victim. He told the New York Times he received a message from an old friend, inviting him over for a drink at his apartment. Upon arrival, his friend was nowhere to be found. Instead, security agents hiding in the residence jumped him. Later, he was taken to an abandoned building, strapped to a chair, hooked up to wires and electrocuted while an interrogator shouted at him to reveal the names of gay friends and lovers. But Maksim was tough, he thwarted the torture and revealed nothing.


Chechen authorities released him to his family, urging them to commit murder. His father initially relented, and Maksim escaped thanks to the Russian LGBT Network. Others were not so lucky. Just two days ago, a boy of 17, after coming out, was thrown for a 9-story window by his uncle to “wash the shame away” from their family.

The Human Rights Watch has estimated over 100 people have suffered similar fates, being detained for days to even several weeks. Four have been confirmed dead, including the boy. This violates a right much deeper than any in the Constitution, the right to be our true selves.

When confronted, Alvi Karimov, spokesman for the Chechen President, dismissed these claims by stating that gay people did not exist in the Republic, thus they cannot be persecuted. According to him, if they do exist, there would be no need for law enforcement as their families would “send them somewhere from which there is no return.”

Prior to the pogrom, gay people needed to marry and have children to hide their true life. Sometimes adopting aliases when with their partners to protect themselves, as they could not turn to their families. How many here remember a time where they had to wear a mask over their true selves, for fear of alienation, persecution and violence?

For those fellow allies here today, it is time to put ourselves on the line. To get active, to call out bigotry both in our personal lives and social media, and ensure this horror never reaches our shores. Do not allow the complacent to tell you it cannot happen here. Our Vice President already approves of electric shock for the insidious conversion therapy. Our census was to have provisions for those of all genders and sexualities, but this administration cut them immediately. Much like Karimov, they attempt to deny existence itself.

Do not allow the hateful to tell you that love is a sin, as no loving deity will condone this violence. If we are not all free to love, then no one is. The organizations with us today make an excellent starting point, whether it’s through education, direct action or fundraising. Waves of hate are crashing over this country, attempting to divide us, to turn us on our friends, family and neighbors. But, together, we can resist. Together, we will preserve our right to love and be our true selves. Together, we will prevail!

UPDATE: Roughly forty Gay Chechens are being denied Visas to enter the US, fleeing the pogrom. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson did not directly confront Russian officials on the torture and killings, but the State Department did release a brief statement condemning it in his April vist.

Places to help with Chechen Pogrom:
- Russian LGBT Network
- Moscow Community Center
- Human Rights Watch

Local LGBT rights groups in Michigan:
- GLSEN
- Fair Michigan
- Equality Michigan

  #MoscowCommunityCenter

Added a post  to  , lgbtqia

works - Ban in . Call and write your Michigan to back MIhouse 5550. Join the this Thursday. More info on Civic Action Center. #loveislove

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