Charity and Sylvia – The 200-Year-Old Same-Sex Marriage

Rachel Hope Cleves

The legalization of same-sex marriage may be brand new to American history, but that doesn’t mean it’s anything unique.

Rachel Hope Cleves, a professor of history at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada, has been studying the love story of two seemingly ordinary women: Charity Bryant and Sylvia Drake. After meeting in Vermont in the late 1700s, the women were “inseparable” and essentially lived as wife and wife for four decades.

In 2014, at the cusp of the Defense of Marriage Act being overturned in the United States, Cleves published “Charity and Sylvia” — a reminder that LGBT people are nothing new to history.

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Becoming Mommy: Lesbian couples share their journeys into motherhood

Jessica and Mandy Gerow during a maternity photo shoot. Photo by Stephanie Sonju.

It was two years ago that Kara Matus stepped into the NICU to visit her tiny twin daughters, little miracles named Reese and Cameron. The nurses asked her, “Where’s dad?”

She replied, “I’m dad.”

Matus’s wife, Jaclyn, gave birth to their daughters thanks to the growing field of reproductive medicine, and many other lesbian couples like them are able to have children together — and in a variety of ways (check out our infographic).

“There continues to be so many advancements that I noticed definitely there’s been an increase year after year in the LGBT patients that we’re getting,” said Dr. Lesley de la Torre, who practices at Associates in Advanced Maternal Fetal Medicine in Miami.

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The Boycott of Florida Orange Juice: How the breakfast juice turned toxic to the gay community

 

For a time in American history, public enemy No.1 was a seemingly innocuous item:

Orange juice.

But not just any orange juice: the juice that came from Florida. And thanks to the bigotry of Anita Bryant, her mission to “Save Our Children” turned the nation against the gay community.

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Caribbean Tourism is a Big Business; Billions Are Spent Each Year

This summer, Floridian ports will be jam packed with visitors from around the world eager to hit the seas and head to the Caribbean.

In this region, chock-full of beaches, outdoor adventures, luxury hotels, and bars, the LGBT community is rising up for equality.

“You can’t quantify the entire region with one brushstroke, and have to look at it country by country,” said John Tanzella, the president and CEO of the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association.

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Finding Life: Local filmmaker explores local gay and lesbian adoptions

Photo courtesy Carlton Smith

A local filmmaker’s documentary of adoption in LGBT families is now available to the public.

Carlton Smith’s “Finding Life” was recently picked up by Amazon and Google Play, allowing subscribers to watch his film following the lives of eight same-sex couples and their experience with adopting their children.

“I’ve only shared it to those who have worked on the film,” Smith said. “I’m excited to get everyone’s thoughts and opinions. Ultimately, the goal is to make people take a second look at fostering, for straight couples or gay couples.”

Smith has worked in the film industry for a number of years, including the country music scene while living in Tennessee. His last film, “The Black Miami,” looked at the contributions of African Americans in the Magic City. It too, was picked up by Amazon and Google Play.

It was while he was working his full-time job that he ended up at Kids in Distress. There, he saw a little boy walk into the room and yell “Daddies!” then running into the arms of two men.

“My jaw dropped and I was like, ‘Did that kid say daddies?’”

Smith, a gay man himself, had no idea same-sex couples could adopt or foster children. As he studied up on it, he decided his second film would be about LGBT couples expanding their families. For two years from start to finish, he was welcomed into the homes of multiple couples of different races and backgrounds to share their stories, all of which vary.

At the start of the filmmaking process for “Finding Life,” gay couples were not allowed to adopt. In 2010, the state’s ban on gay people adopting was overturned, but couples together could not adopt. Typically, one partner would adopt and be the child’s legal parent. The second parent was legally no more than a babysitter. Finally, in 2015, couples were given the right to adopt and be legally recognized as parents in the eyes of the law.

“I just wanted to really show that it didn’t matter, gay, straight or what your race is, that everybody if they’re willing and able can foster children,” Smith said. “It’s so important to show the diversity that’s out there.”

Also, Smith hopes it’s a learning experience for the LGBT community, some who may be like he was and learn that it’s possible to have children.

“I think it’s going to touch your heart. Whether you want to be a parent, whether you want to be a  parent, whether you’re gay, whether you’re straight, it’s going to touch your heart.

Want to watch “Finding Life?” Visit FindingLifeMovie.com to watch on Amazon or Google Play.

 

Story originally published in South Florida Gay News.

The Trans Woman Behind the Right to Have Surgery in Prison

In January, a California prisoner, Shiloh Quine, made headlines when she became the first prisoner to receive sex reassignment surgery.

However, her story begins much earlier and through the journey of another transgender woman, Michelle-Lael Norsworthy.

“I am so happy that she got it,” Norsworthy said of Quine. “Anybody who disagrees with an inmate getting sex reassignment surgery is saying — and a lot of trans people are against it — … that gender dysphoria is a choice, [that the surgery] is an elective or cosmetic procedure.”

Norsworthy, 53, who is now out of prison, made waves of her own when she petitioned the state to receive the surgery while she was serving time, a surgery she and medical professionals said was a medical necessity, in Norsworthy v. Beard.

However, after being denied parole five times, the state decided she was “cured” and ready to be released from prison. While she could finally say goodbye to prison life, it meant that she would no longer be getting the surgery.

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HRC Releases Ultimate Guide to Raising Trans Children

The Human Rights Campaign teamed up with two national pediatrics groups to produce a comprehensive guide on transgender children to help family, friends, and physicians.

The 24-page guide, Supporting and Caring for Transgender Children, was produced with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American College of Osteopathic Pediatricians (ACOP). It goes over basic definitions of gender, the benefits of affirming a child’s gender identity, debunks myths, and provides support and tips for those who care for transgender children.

“As we’ve made more and more progress with transgender rights and our society is getting a deeper understanding of what it means to be transgender, more and more people are comfortable in coming out at younger ages,” said Sarah McBride, the national press secretary at HRC.

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The Boys of Bangladesh

In April, two men were hacked to death in Bangladesh putting a spotlight on a hidden population in the small Southwest Asian country: LGBT people.

Xulhaz Mannan, the editor of an LGBT magazine, and Mahbub Tonoy were killed in the Bangladeshi capital by six attackers, leaving a third man seriously injured.

“It’s a really painful thing for us,” said Mir Abeureyad, the acting general secretary and a volunteer at Boys of Bangladesh (BoysOfBangladesh.org). “We can’t express ourselves as an LGBT person in Bangladesh. So it’s really tough for us.”

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Fighting With Fruit: Anita Bryant’s Long-Lasting Legacy

A banana cream pie was a part of one of the most iconic moments in the gay liberation movement.

Anita Bryant, a chart-topping songstress who used her fame to fight “homosexual militants,” was speaking at a press conference in Des Moines, Iowa in 1977 when an activist, Tom Higgins, threw the pie in her face.

“Well, at least it’s a fruit pie,” she scoffed.

Her husband, Bob Green, then encouraged his wife to pray for Higgins. She prayed for him and his “deviant” lifestyle as she wiped away cream from her face, crying.

Lee Lawson, an Iowa native who was in Des Moines protesting Bryant’s visit that day, didn’t witness the incident in person, but word spread quickly.

“Some of us were excited and some of us were embarrassed,” he said of the bold move, one some felt was too bold. “One of the things you had to be aware of is there was a large anti-war movement and we were trying to keep ourselves separate from that. They were a lot bigger and a lot more active than we were. We were trying to do our own thing.”

No matter the reason, Bryant was a huge roadblock in the fight for LGBT rights.

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The Forgotten Tragedy: Before Pulse, there was the UpStairs Lounge in New Orleans

In New Orleans’ French Quarter, countless people walk the intersection of Iberville Street and Chartres Street, perhaps to grab a drink at The Jimani, a bite at the Backspace Bar & Kitchen, or breakfast at Daisy Dukes.

But look down, and a bronze plaque is embedded in the brick sidewalk, one with a flame and the names of 32 perished souls. Beneath a neon sign reading Dixie Divas, it sits at the feet of a burgundy door that houses the story of the UpStairs Lounge.

It was June 24, 1973 — nearly four years to the day of the infamous raid at the Stonewall Inn in New York City, when a gathering of LGBT people and their allies were laughing over drinks. By the end of the night, 29 were dead and another three would later die from their injuries.

The next day, The Times-Picayune devoted its front page to the fire, headlined “29 KILLED IN QUARTER BLAZE” and printed a photo of onlookers in front of the charred building, as well as a portrait of a man in horror as he took in the damage.

“I was 11 years old and I saw the front page of the newspaper,” remembers Johnny Townsend.  “There was that picture of Rusty Quinton on the front cover looking up in horror at the bar. The expression on his face really struck me deeply.”

To this day, no one has been arrested for the fire, and until recently, the tragedy disappeared into history.

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