Richmond LGBT Community Responds To Anti-Gay Billboard With Positive Message….


Richmond commuters traveling along the Interstate 95/64 corridor on Wednesday were greeted by a new billboard, this one with a more positive and LGBT-affirming message than another billboard that has gained national attention recently.

The new billboard, from the Gay Community Center of Richmond (GCCR), proclaims “We are all born to love,” a message it hopes counters the “Nobody is born gay” billboard “ex-gay therapy” group Parents and Friends of Ex-gays (PFOX), which can be seen about a mile down the road.

“We are so proud as to how our community rallied to address this issue,” said Bill Harrison, Executive Director at the GCCR. “This ordeal has been an excellent way to raise awareness of the possible harms of so called reparative therapy.”

Harrison said this is one of a many billboard which will run in the coming weeks.

Unlike the PFOX billboard, the GCCR’s is digital, so it will runs on a 10 second cycle as one of 6 advertisers in each billboard slot.

The message will run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with the ad being visible about 1300 times a day.


The GCCR doesn’t pay for the ad on their property because the non-profit owns the billboard space. Lamar has a partnership with non-profits; if they do not sell the inventory space, they donate the ads. Additional ads supporting Richmond’s LGBTQ community are expected in the coming weeks, also free of charge.

The image for the billboard was taken over the weekend when hundreds of LGBTQ and ally Richmonders gathered at the GCCR for an impromptu photo shoot.

Billy Flynn is one of the people visible on the billboard. He said he came out to the photo shoot because he was offended by the gay conversion billboard, which he said promotes hate and ignorance.

“I thought the idea of Richmond coming together to make a gesture was a great thing,” said Flynn, who identifies as bisexual. “I felt it was important to do something as I have friends and family members who are transgender, who are gay… good people who are thought less of simply for being who they are.”

A second billboard is running the same ad along Southside I-64 East.

Brad Kutner –

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List Of Duty Stations Available To Same-Sex Military Couples Continues To Grow….


This month, the list of countries where a same-sex military spouse can be sponsored by the Defense Department to join a U.S. service member for an accompanied assignment outside of the U.S. grew to 40 countries.

Unfortunately for many lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) military families approaching the time of year where new duty stations are often assigned, many locations remain unavailable, notably including Germany which hosts an estimated 43,000 U.S. military personnel.

In the locations that remain unavailable to LGBT military families, the same-sex spouses of U.S. service members are denied what is known as “command sponsorship” due to concerns that they are not covered under the current Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with the host nation as military dependents. This effectively prevents same-sex spouses and children from accompanying their service member to their new duty station in those locations.

“Unfortunately our LGBT service members are often faced with a very difficult situation of choosing between their family and a duty station that would benefit their career, a frustrating and heartbreaking choice my own family is experiencing,” said Ashley Broadway, President of AMPA and spouse of an active duty U.S. Army officer. “Service members already have to leave their families behind for deployments to combat zones, and sadly our LGBT service members have to face leaving their families behind for a normal duty station as well.”

“While we are confident that the State Department is working towards a solution, we cannot emphasize enough the urgency of this issue and how much of an impact continued delays in resolving the uncertainty have on our military families,” continued Broadway. “We are especially eager to see the situation resolved with Germany, considering so many of our service members continue to receive orders there and must leave their families behind.”

The situation with Germany, a nation which already recognizes same-sex relationships, remains unsettled due to continued delays in working out agreements between the State Department and the German government over reciprocity agreements in regards to Germany’s civil unions.

Additionally, resolution of remaining concerns with the Republic of Korea (South Korea) is also a high priority for AMPA and LGBT military families. With an estimated 30,000 U.S. military personnel stationed there, continued problems remain for issuing necessary SOFA visas to same-sex military spouses.

Current available locations for command sponsorship of same-sex spouses include: Japan, Italy, UK, Bahrain, Belgium, Spain, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Argentina, Denmark, New Zealand, Uruguay, Mexico, Brazil, Nepal, Vietnam, Australia, Laos, Austria, Bolivia, Columbia, Cambodia, Mongolia, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Finland, Cyprus, Ireland, Israel, Burma, Georgia, Philippines, Taiwan, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Curacao, Papua New Guinea, and Fiji.

For more information about the American Military Partner Association and LGBT military spouses and their families, please visit

The American Military Partner Association is the nation’s largest organization for the partners, spouses, families, and allies of America’s LGBT service members and veterans. With over 35,000 members and supporters, AMPA is committed to education, advocacy, and support for our “modern military families.”

Edge: New England

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Inspired By Robbie Rogers, High School Soccer Star Comes Out At Homecoming By Dancing With Boyfriend….


High school soccer player Michael Martin decided to stop hiding when he went to his school’s homecoming dance this fall.

The All-State goalie at Musselman High School in Inwood, West Virginia, was on the homecoming court. When the Alan Jackson song Remember When played, Martin took to the dance floor for a slow dance with Jem, his boyfriend of two weeks.

‘Only some people knew about me before the homecoming, so it was a shocker for some seeing me dance with another guy,’ he writes in a column for Outsports posted on Tuesday.

‘Jem and I danced all night to the most popular pop songs. But it was the slow dance that I most remember that night at the school cafeteria. It was the best night ever. Jem and I got asked a lot if we were together and we said yes. “That is so cute!” some girls said. It made us felt accepted.’

Two weeks earlier, they had played out a similar scene at Jem’s school in a different county (they met through friends). Jem was crowned homecoming king of his school on that night.

‘I held his hand when we went to get refreshments and when we took breaks from dancing,’ he writes. ‘It was a weird feeling for me, since I had just barely started coming out. I was nervous yet excited.’

After Martin’s homecoming dance, word spread throughout the school and while there was some backlash, there was also plenty of support.

‘I sensed that some guys were looking at me differently. My friends even told me people were talking about me in a negative way in different classes. “He is a faggot now,” I was told some people said. My friends courageously stood up for me and I am so proud to call them my friends.’

Martin, 18, had a role model in soccer pro Robbie Roberts, the LA Galaxy player who came out publicly in 2013 during a break in his playing career. He describes Rogers as ‘my soccer hero’ and ‘the man who inspired me to come out.’

‘I loved how he announced he was gay and did not quit playing soccer,’ Martin writes. ‘He gave me hope and confidence to be true to myself. Once he came out I started to contemplate doing the same myself and being proud of who I am.

‘I have learned that being gay does not mean you are a lesser of a human being. If I can come out in a small town in West Virginia and be accepted, and dance with the homecoming king, it shows things are changing.

‘I hope my performances and story help inspire other gay teens to show their true colors and not be afraid to play the sport they love.’

Greg Hernandez – Gay Star News

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Chelsea Manning’s Relatives Claim She Was “Tortured” By US Military….

Bradley Manning

British relatives of US whistleblower Chelsea Manning have made claims that she was “tortured” by US authorities.

Following the release of a CIA report into torture last week, relatives of the 26 year old army Private – who was sentenced to 35 years in jail for leaking classified information to WikiLeaks – alleged she has suffered similar treatment.

Her aunt, Sharon Staples, told WalesOnline that she believes that way Manning has been treated amounts to torture.

She said: “What really hurt me was the treatment Chelsea received in Quantico two years before the trial: stripped naked, kept in solitary confinement, made to stand in a corner, everything taken away.”

Manning was held in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day for ten months after being arrested, but before being tried.

On her website, it states she was forced to remain naked for long periods of time, and denied exercise or sunlight.

Her mother Susan Manning said “It breaks my heart to think of her missing out on her freedom, all because she told the truth instead of covering it up. Chelsea was brought up to be truthful.

“When she was small her grandmother lived with us and she always said to the children: ‘If you can’t tell the truth, don’t bother speaking’.”

Manning is currently suing the US Department of Defense for access to transition treatment. She has previously said she is banned from presenting as female and denied treatment despite it being a “medical necessity”.

It was previously reported that US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel had approved plans to start her treatment – but this has not yet taken place.

Pink News

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Cucumber, Banana, Tofu | Brand New Series | Coming Soon….

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Anti-Gay N.C. Church Members Indicted On Felony Kidnapping, Assault Of Gay Man….


Five members of an anti-LGBT church in Spindale, N.C., were indicted on several felony charges this week, following a complaint lodged by a young gay man who says church members kidnapped him and assaulted him because of his sexual orientation.

A grand jury indicted Justin Brock Covington, Brooke McFadden Covington, Robert Louis Walker Jr. and Adam Christopher Bartley on second degree kidnapping and simple assault charges. A fifth member, Sarah Covington Anderson, was indicted on second degree kidnapping as well as simple assault and assault by strangulation.

The grand jury met on Monday, with indictment announcements released on Tuesday.

All are members of The Word of Faith Fellowship, a church which has continually come under fire for its alleged cult-like behaviors and severe treatment of members, particularly young people.

In 1995, the church was the subject of an “Inside Edition” report on its “blasting” techniques, in which a person is encircled by church members and subjected to high-pitched shrilling sounds, screams and prayers. Blasting sessions can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours.

In this most recent case, 21-year-old student Matthew Fenner, a member of the church since age 16, alleges that several members targeted him because of his sexual orientation.

On Jan. 29, 2013, Fenner says he was threatened with confinement for two days, slapped, strangled and verbally assaulted in an attempt, he says, to free him of “homosexual demons.”

Faith in America, a Taylorsville, N.C.-based LGBT advocacy group, has taken up Fenner’s cause.

They report in a press release: “Fenner said that at the time of the assault, he had a number of places on his back and neck that had been biopsied two weeks earlier for possible malignancy due to Fenner having cancer when he was a young boy. Fenner said members of the church who were involved with the assault ‘continued to grab at these spots resulting in much pain.’ He states in the affidavit that he believed he would have been severely beaten if he had admitted to any same-sex relations.”

The church and the accused have said the allegations are not true.

An affidavit signed by Fenner and submitted with his complaint to local law enforcement alleges extreme abuse by several members of the church.

Word of Faith Fellowship has also been involved in past cases, including allegations of abuse made in 2012 by Michael Lowry. His allegations led the U.S. Department of Justice to initiate a hate crimes investigation.

Lowry had been placed under FBI supervision, but he later recanted his story and returned to the church.

According to Faith in America, Lowry has since left the church again and now claims he was manipulated into recanting his story.

Fenner is no longer a member of the church and he is now an anthropology student at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. His mother and brother are still members of the Spindale church and testified against Fenner in the grand jury deliberations.

The church also operates an unaccredited private school, which was due to receive state funding under North Carolina’s new private school voucher program. The program has been ruled unconstitutional by a state appeals court and is awaiting a hearing at the North Carolina Supreme Court.

Matt Comer – QNotes

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Albania Gay Rights Groups Open First LGBTI Shelter In Balkan Region….


A new residential shelter for LGBTI people who are homeless, suffer domestic violence because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, or live in an unsafe environment, opened on Thursday in Tirana, Albania.

Streha, “the Shelter” in Albanian, is a project founded by two Albanian gay rights organizations, Alenaca LGBT and ProLGBT, and will offer temporary (up to six months) housing and services to its users, including life skills training, vocational training opportunities and psycho-social support.

It is the first shelter of its kind for LGBTI individuals in the Balkan region and one of the first in Eastern Europe.

Kiristi Pinderi, Executive Director of PRO LGBT and Xheni Karaj, Director of Aleanca LGBT led Streha’s inauguration. Supporters also attended it, including the Albanian Minister of Social Welfare and Youth, Erion Veliaj, the British Ambassador, Nicholas Cannon OBE; Deputy chief of the US Embassy Henry V. Jardine; Program Director at USAID Albania, Clare Masson and other dignitaries.

Pinderi told LGBTQ Nation that street violence against LGBTI people and “within [the] family environment, schools and other spaces” makes Streha a necessary service.

Karaj added that now LGBTI people have “a new solution for whenever they feel in risk.”

Last year, Albania amended its criminal code and put hate crimes against sexual orientation and gender identity on par with an offense against gender, race, ethnicity, religious belief, disability and so on.

The Albanian government has also agreed to amend the country’s family code in order to introduce same sex cohabitation, with a vote expected shortly and pass without opposition.

LGBTQ Nation

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