#LGBTQ

Federal Judge Stops Defense Department From Discharging HIV+ Military - For Now

A federal judge has ordered the Trump administration to stop discharging HIV+ members of the U.S. military for the time being.

The order came in the case of Roe and Voe v. Shanahan, filed by Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN, with partner law firm Winston & Strawn, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of two Airmen who were given discharge orders in November of last year.

Both men had tested positive for HIV in 2017 during routine screenings, and after beginning antiretroviral treatment they were deemed asymptomatic and declared physically fit to deploy, according to The Washington Post.

Even though they had the backing of their commanding officers, they were informed in November that the military prohibits personnel with HIV from being deployed to the Middle East, where the majority of Air Force members are expected to go.

In February 2018, the Trump administration announced its “Deploy or Get Out” policy which ordered the Pentagon to identify service members who cannot be deployed to military posts outside the United States for more than 12 consecutive months, and to separate them from military service.

Both men say they can deploy with no issues as long as they take a supply of medication with them.

One of the airmen told The Washington Post he'd already been deployed to the Middle East twice, and both times his duty didn't require him to leave his base where proper medical facilities were available.

Neither men were given the option of alternative jobs, which they say they would have accepted.

U.S. District Court Judge Leonie Brinkema issued the preliminary injunction Friday after hearing oral arguments in regarding Lamda Legal and Outserve-SLDN’s motion for a preliminary injunction as well as the Trump administration’s motion to dismiss.

Judge Brinkema granted the injunction after ruling the plaintiffs (who filed pseudonymously as “Richard Roe” and “Victor Voe”) were likely to prevail in stopping their discharge.

Peter Perkowski, OutServe-SLDN’s Legal & Policy Director, issued a statement which read: 

“We are thrilled that Judge Brinkema recognized not just that the military’s policies were harming our members who are living and serving with HIV. But also indicated that, at least on the evidence before her, the military’s decisions were based on outdated medical science and are categorically denying people living with HIV the same opportunities as their fellow service members. We look forward to a final decision in the case.”

 

(h/t Lambda Legal, Washington Post)

Chicago Police Arrest Two Men As "Potential Suspects" In Alleged Smollett Assault

The Chicago Police Department has announced the arrests of two men in connection to the alleged homophobic attack on Empire star Jussie Smollett.

According to CNN, the men are the same that were previously identified in surveillance video as “persons of interest.”

Tom Ahern, Chicago Police communications deputy director, told the press that the men are being viewed as “potential suspects,” but have not been charged at this time.

The men were taken into custody for questioning Wednesday night at O’Hare Airport as they returned from a trip to Nigeria.

One of the men previously pleaded guilty to aggravated battery in 2012, and was sentenced to 2 years of probation, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Earlier today, CPD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said detectives “had probable cause that they may have been involved in an alleged crime.” Guglielmi didn’t specify what the alleged crime might have been.

"Interrogations will resume today with the two individuals and their attorney," Guglielmi said in his statement. "While we haven't found any video documenting the alleged attack, there is also no evidence to say that this is a hoax."

Smollett told the authorities that on January 29, he was attacked by two men who assaulted him, put a noose around his neck and poured an undetermined liquid on him. According to Smollett, the men used homophobic and racial slurs during the attack as well as yelling, “This is MAGA country!”

On Thursday, the CPD shared they had identified the two men, reportedly brothers from Nigeria, using surveillance cameras, public transportation records and corroborating info provided by Smollett.

Chicago news station CBS2 reports police raided the home of the two men finding bleach, shoes, electronics and more.

According to their lawyer, Gloria Schmidt, the men know Smollett as at least one of them has reportedly worked as an extra on Empire.

"They do know Jussie,” she told CBS2. “They have worked with him on Empire. My preliminary investigations show that on set it’s very tight. They’re all very cordial with each other, so they’re baffled why they are people of interest.”

There were conflicting press reports Thursday night as some outlets claimed the Chicago Police Department was looking into whether Smollett staged the attack himself and falsely reported the crime.

Among the theories was that Smollett might have faked the assault to raise his profile as his character on Empire was to be written off the series.

But Guglielmi announced via Twitter that media reports alleging the attack was a “hoax” were “unconfirmed by case detectives.”

The police spokesman added that media sources regarding the attack are “uninformed and inaccurate.”

Additionally, 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment released the following statement regarding the reports:

“The idea that Jussie Smollett has been, or would be, written off of EMPIRE is patently ridiculous.  He remains a core player on this very successful series and we continue to stand behind him.”

Stay tuned… developing story.

(h/t CNN, CBS2)

Wisconsin Supreme Court Candidate Has Extreme Anti-LGBTQ Positions

When an individual sits on the bench as a judge - in any court - the responsibility is to be fair and unbiased in applying the law. The public needs to know judges don’t bring their own personal judgements into the courtroom.

Which is why many in Wisconsin are concerned about the candidacy of State Appeals Court Judge Brian Hagedorn for the state Supreme Court.

According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, in 2016, Hagedorn helped found the Augustine Academy in Merton, Wisconsin.

The private religious school bans students, teachers, and parents from being in gay relationships.

The school's statement of faith declares that "Adam and Eve were made to complement each other in a one-flesh union that establishes the only normative pattern of sexual relations for men and women, such that marriage ultimately serves as a type of the union between Christ and his church." 

The school’s Code of Personal Conduct (listed in the school teacher application) specifically dictates no “immoral sexual activity” which is defined as “any form of touching or nudity for the purpose of evoking sexual arousal apart from the context of marriage between one man and one woman.”

Violations of the code of conduct could result in teaches being fired. And students face possible removal from the school should they or their parents be discovered violating the rules.

It isn’t unusual for a private, faith-based school to have such policies.

However, Hagedorn’s close relationship to the school, which he still oversees, gives pause as to how neutral he would be as a judge on the state’s highest court.

In that the nonpartisan court hears cases that involve LGBTQ discrimination based on “deeply held religious beliefs,” it’s difficult to see Hagedorn putting his personal beliefs aside in such cases.

Analiese Eicher, executive director One Wisconsin Now, expressed her concerns that Hagedorn “remains intimately associated with an organization that actively discriminates against the LGBTQ community.”

Stephan Thompson, a member of the schools board of directors, defended Hagedorn saying he “treats everyone fairly under the law.”

"He is running for the Supreme Court to protect religious freedoms for all Wisconsinites, regardless of faith," added Thompson. "Yet the latest smear is just another example of attacks on his own faith."

But the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has previously reported on blog posts made by Hagedorn while in law school where he once described the overturning of an anti-sodomy law as a possible foundation to legalize bestiality.

In 2005, he wrote, “The idea that homosexual behavior is different than bestiality as a constitutional matter is unjustifiable.”

Hagedorn has stated he sets aside his personal beliefs as a member of the state Appeals Court, and would continue to do so if elected to the Supreme Court.

(h/t Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

Exclusive: Burgeoning Trans Rapper Braydbunch on Her Booming Career

Groundbreaking people are often seen as ones who are needed to keep the industry they are in on their toes. Trans rapper Braydbunch is setting out to be that shape shifter in the music world in 2019 and beyond as their lyricism, beats and who they identify as has never really been seen before in an arena that is constantly changing.

Braydbunch has done a phenomenal job at developing a major online presence due to her songs that have already racked up millions of views like "Deaf to the Hate" and "BANG!" She's giving the industry a major wake up call, one that appears to be needed given just how boring and redundant the hip-hop world has become lately.

The most important aspect of Braydbunch is the sense that she is doing all of this unapologetically. Getting to the place that she is now has not been easy, with the backlash of her transition and more, but she's doing this not only for her community but the bevy of kids she teaches in New York City. 

Braydbunch sat down with me to discuss all of that and more in a truly eye-opening interview earlier this week. Check it out.

Do you feel as if you are breaking ground in the music scene due to how you identify?

Without a doubt. I think my transgender identity works both for me and against me in many ways. Overall, being transgender is usually a disadvantage for me in the current world we live in. After transition, many of the privileges I had as a white male were ripped out from underneath me. For example, I went from quickly climbing up the ladder as a man in the school system, to having my reputation smeared, was physically assaulted multiple times in the work place and nearly had my career unfairly ruined by supervisors who were transphobic and did not want a transgender teacher in the public school system. However, I used all the hate directed at me to light a fire and did not allow others to unfairly end my career due to my LGBT status.

I held onto receipts, covered my ass and worked harder than ever to prove myself in a work environment that did not want me there. The road has been a long one, but I like to think I came out on top and proved all my haters wrong. However, I know my case is currently being investigated by the EEOC who I hope does the right thing and holds those who did me wrong accountable for breaking laws. However, I currently teach in one of the greatest city schools in the country, much due to my passion for teaching. I also think that my trans status makes people talk more about me than the typical rapper trying to make it in the hip hop game. Some of the talk is positive and others are clearly hating, I am not going to lie, people love to hate on me for being both white and transgender in the hip hop world. In a way, I know I need to try harder than most to prove myself to the world as a rapper.

However, my experiences make me more unique than the typical SoundCloud mumble rapper rising to fame these days. I have things to talk about that others haven't experienced. I offer a different perspective of the world through my music. However, I'm getting better by the day and the haters are slowly getting quieter and quieter. Especially as my download and play counts increase worldwide. People can hate all they want but you can't hate on statistics. I am currently the biggest transgender rapper in the game. I also have built this following all through myself. I don't have a promo team or giant label behind me. Much like Tekashi 6ix9ine, I am building an empire all by myself one day at a time. This is just the beginning for me, and I am touched with the support I have received from my fans. I am definitely going to use my transgender status to help me gain attention, but overall I want to become so good that eventually that will be the last thing people remember about me. 

What made you want to get into the world of hip hop seeing as your day job is much different?

Well, I have always loved music, particularly hip hop. I won my first official rap battle when I was in 8th grade. However, I also tried to be a Rockstar when I was younger. When I was in high school, I had many failed attempts at forming musical groups, such as my high school band The Sophmorons. Unfortunately, I quickly learned that most people weren't as hungry as I was. I couldn't rely on anyone who was as passionate as I was when I was younger, so most of my musical projects ended up hitting a dead end. However, I never gave up on the dream of being a superstar one day. 

You see, a large theme of my early life was always being told that I couldn't accomplish certain things by others. Others were always crushing my dreams and sadly the younger me was more susceptible to the opinions of others. I always had dreams, such as living my life authentically as a trans woman. I reached a point in my life where I felt like I wasn't living my life and decided that I needed to reclaim my time. I decided to focus on myself before everyone else for once. I made a conscious decision to chase down all my dreams that nearly escaped me. I now am making them all happen. I got married to a beautiful woman that I loved with all my heart, I work as an openly transgender high school teacher in NYC and am now starting to make a name for myself in the rap game. 

However, the real reason I decided to give this a shot is due to David Bowie, believe it or not. Last spring, I was going through a rough time in my life. I was going through a divorce and felt like I was all alone in this world. Writing poetry and listening to music helped heal my damaged soul during this dark time in my life. By chance an old friend happened to contact me while they were visiting NYC for the week. They invited me to the David Bowie exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum and I jumped at the opportunity. Little did I know at the time, but I was going to leave changed forever.

I swear, I feel as if I got more out of that exhibit than anyone else on the planet. I left feeling inspired, almost possessed by Bowie himself. From the fashion, to the music, to the lyrics, to his personal story it all was so relatable to me. He was so ahead of his time in many ways. He blurred the lines of gender and sexuality in the most beautiful way. He also surrounded himself with others who were so talented that he could grow off. Most importantly, he did not try to fit into anyone’s boxes. He lived life how he wanted to. I left that exhibit and never looked back. I no longer was going to try to appease anyone in life with my lifestyle choices. I was just going to be unapologetically me. I went home that night and recorded my first mixtape over the rest of spring break. Were my songs good? Most were horrible to tell the truth. However, like a sport, I knew with practice I would just get better and better. Even Michael Jordan had to start somewhere.

I returned to school from break and informed my students that their next project was going to be to make a historically based mixtape. I was quickly nicknamed Shady Brady by one of my students and the rest is now history. 

 How do your students support you in the process?

At first, many of my students laughed at the idea of a transgender rapper. I was told that I would never make it. I even had some kids challenge me to some rap battles. To be honest I caught a lot of hate from the kids early on. NYC high school kids can be very honest and open. My early stuff wasn't too hot. However, it became clear to me that I was getting better when I released the song “Best Men” online and on Spotify. It was a song I wrote from the heart about the best man at my wedding, who told me I couldn't be part of his wedding party unless I presented as a man. There is more to the story, but this burned my soul. What amazed me was the fact that kids were singing the song on their own in classes. They were sharing it with friends and memorizing the lyrics. Suddenly, kids were coming to me for help with their own music. 

When this current school year started, I realized that many kids had a strong passion for hip hop just like I did. I decided to start an after-school program for beat making and rapping. What started with just a few kids has now turned into one of the largest programs in the school. I have a real producer come in twice a week to help me teach these kids how to make beats and record their own songs. This producer works with some of the biggest artists in the rap game himself. I have even put my own money into getting them the equipment they need to start their own studio at the school. The club has become so successful that I even have former students who are in college showing up to help and participate. Even crazier is the fact that high school kids from other schools are showing up too. Many of my students are now putting on their own live shows and building up large followings online themselves. Students are even popping in to my room during lunch so I can help them with their own songs and beats that they are working on.  I am proud to say that many of them are now talking about going to school for music production when they graduate.

These kids are so talented and have really helped me with my own music making process. They have exposed me to artists I have never heard of and will give me honest feedback on my flow, beats and lyrics. These kids have helped turn me into both a better artist and teacher. 

The most amazing part of all of this is the fact that music brought us all together. Many of these kids never actually knew a transgender person before meeting me. Some of them have shared with me that I have made them look at transgender people in a completely different light. One student told me that he hated LGBTQ people until he got to know me in my hip hop club. He now even hangs out with a trans kid who shows up to my club sometimes. The fact that these students accept me is hard to believe sometimes. Especially because I used to work in schools where I was physically attacked for being transgender in the past.

Would you like to make music your full-time gig?

Yes, I would. However, I would love to be able to keep teaching as well. I dream of a large international tour one day. Maybe I can time my tour dates with my breaks as a teacher. In all seriousness though, I have started my own recording studio known as Braydbunch Studios. The studio is still under construction but should be fully up and running by this summer. 

Although I love the idea that some labels have reached out to me already, if I get signed it would have to be to the right label. I'd love to get signed to A Boogies' label, Queens Bridge the Label. However, I also am thinking of starting my own label much like him and his crew did. I know enough talent to start one and believe that I really am going to slowly take over the New York hip hop scene. Considering I have my own studio, I may just have to make it happen. Much like 6ix9ine, I would love to pave my own road to success. However, I know that getting signed to a major label could only open many doors that I currently do not have access to. I would also love to have the money behind me to expand my reach. 

You just passed half a million views on your song "Deaf to the Hate". How did it feel to reach that milestone?

Although it feels amazing, I know this is just the beginning. I am currently working on finishing a music video for a song that I believe is going to be a true hit. One of the record labels that helped 6ix9ine blow up is planning on releasing my next single and video on their end. I believe that I will pass a million views in no time. In fact, I am all about progress so I know that I am going to release a couple of videos that will easily pass a million views. 

Furthermore, I am more excited about the success of my recent mixtape that I have been sharing on my SoundCloud. If anyone hasn't heard it yet, you are missing out and should give it a try at www.soundcloud.com/braydbunch. My current single “Why You So Mad Bro?” Feat. Xhristian!, Shandrika and Young the Third (Prod. LeftyLouC) has almost 300k plays in less than two weeks. “The Heart Bursts” FEAT. Xhristian! x Sxlitary x Stezie (Prod LeftyLouC) has well over 300k plays in a little more than two weeks and other songs from The Shady Brady MixTape are doing just as well if not better. I even have around 40 k followers on SoundCloud which I believe will only increase in time. 

It also blows my mind that “Deaf to the Hate” has been Shazam’d over 20k times. Many mainstream artists have smaller numbers than I do.

Lastly, I am proud of the fact that I have around 1 million streams on Spotify in less than a year. My monthly listener count is around 40k people each month as well. This is amazing considering I am an independent transgender artist. Even better is the fact that most of my good stuff hasn't even been released on their yet. I have millions of streams worldwide on other streaming platforms at well. I hope to just increase my following each month from here on out. 

Speaking of "hate", how do you silence them in such a politically-charged time?

Well, the lyrics to my song “Deaf to the Hate” are pretty much it. I block them out and don't listen. I keep my eye on the prize. I will never make everyone happy and am used to the hate from both the cisgender and transgender community. In fact, some of the most hate comes from the transgender community itself. This is one of the reasons I have embraced the non-binary movement. I refuse to squeeze into anyone’s boxes. I've been told how to act as a trans woman from both cisgender people and transgender people who had no right to tell me how to live my life. Just like I block out the "Transplainers", I try my best to block out the haters.

All the hate I receive just makes me stronger. I know that each time I release a better song or video, that I will silence some of these haters as I already have some. Others will continue to hate on me, but as say in my song, that's just a sign "that the games about to me mine."

Furthermore, as a transgender woman. I have seen true hate up close and personal many times. I even had my own aunt & uncle disinvite themselves from my wedding when they found out about my transition. They even took me out of their wills and left all their inheritance to my two sisters, one who is even a lesbian. I know there are certain people out there who hate me simply for being trans. I'd say that is more their problem than mine. I keep my circle small these days and only let in people I truly trust. I lost most of "closest" friends and family after I transitioned. I am used to the hate and it only makes me stronger.

What does the future hold for your budding career in 2019 and beyond?

2019 is going to be my year, I can just feel it. I am excited for Braydbunch Studios to be up and running this summer. I can't wait to release my next single because I know it is going to be a hit. A leaked clip of the song went viral in NYC on both Snapchat and Instagram with hundreds of thousands seeing it in a day. My Instagram just seems to grow each day. It seems everyone wants to learn more about Braydbunch these days.

I also think my success comes from believing in myself. I know I am special. I know I will be a star. I know I will be signed to a label or will start my own. I will continue to grow in popularity. I will get the Instagram blue badge lol. Most importantly though is the large show I have planned for this summer. I have done a few local small shows in Brooklyn that have been amazing. However, I am almost done securing the location to my first large Brooklyn based show this summer. Tickets should be announced shortly, and it is going to be EPIC, I promise. After that, I plan on trying to do a small American and Canadian Tour. I have a large following in Canada and want to possibly perform some shows in Montreal or Toronto this summer as well. 

I am also finishing up my first official EP that I hope to release by April. I know the world is going to love it.

I also am curious to see if the EEOC does the right thing with my claims. If not, I may have to decide whether to take my case to Federal Court to fight for trans rights. 

Lastly, I hope to find true love this year. Video models are fun and all, but I want something real. Need to find my queen so we can build an empire together like Jay-Z and Beyonce

For more information on Braydbunch, check out their official Instagram

 

Everyone Needs to Check Out Big Mouth's Super-Gay Valentine's Day Special!

Big Mouth Made Me Want A Bisexual Boyfriend!


The Netflix Series Valentine’s Day Special Is A Must Watch!

Have you seen the adult animated Netflix series, Big Mouth? I’m big on streaming shows for the convenience and somehow this show has missed me! If animation isn’t your thing, I still implore you to give this a chance mainly for their unique portrayal of gay and bisexual characters.  The series created by comedian Nick Kroll (Kroll Show, The League) is parodied of his sexual awakening during his youth. It follows a group of friends and frenemies in 7th grade hitting puberty and has a male and female “hormone monsters” playing devil-on-the-shoulder to explore their deep, dark, sexual thoughts. For the last two years my best friend has been trying to convince me to watch the show and I kept finding an excuse not too. Now, I’m trying to find any excuse I can to catch up with the entire series after viewing the Valentine’s Day Special.


My Furry Valentine, the latest Big Mouth adaption to hit Netflix, focuses on the series’ core characters during the day of love. Everyone is hoping Cupid will strike them before or during a party at their abrasive classmates’ home. While it takes the holiday to the extreme with sexual curiosity and the hilarious voice cast, there are two characters who I completely gravitated towards. First is Matthew (Andrew Rannells), a flamboyant-obviously gay kid. He is on a journey to discover someone who is *like him* so he won’t spend Valentine’s Day alone. Unfortunately, he’s seemingly the only gay kid in his neighborhood until he eventually discovers a boy at a convenience store who is a bit too kind to him, only to discover he has a “girlfriend”, which seems like a lie. The hope for Matthew that there’s someone else gay in town is adorable and completely relatable. Since he can’t find love at the moment, he solidifies his relati​onship with his best girlfriend, Jessi (Jessi Glaser), as his most important relationship.


Intertwined is the story of my absolute favorite character. Jay Bilzerian (Jason Mantzoukas) is a bisexual, “sex machine”, who is so adorable he made me want to start dating bisexual men! Bilzerian spends his Valentine’s Day not wanting to go to the party, but instead take his two pillows, one male and one female, on two different dates. He wines and dines his female pillow while making love to her and simultaneously works out with his buff, masculine male pillow while also making love to him. He fantasizes he’s on a parody of American Ninja Warrior as he tries to make both male and female genitalia climax in record time. He’s shameless with his bisexuality and it doesn’t phase him or make him depressed. In the end, he realizes he must stop using inanimate objects to use for sex and decides it’s time for him to interact with real humans.


If you have yet to watch Big Mouth’s Valentine’s Day Special, you’ve seriously got to check it out! In the meantime, you can check out the trailer for the special below!


'Dear Evan Hansen' Stars Sing Same-Sex Version of "Only Us" For Valentine's Day

For Valentine’s Day, the producers of the Broadway musical, Dear Evan Hansen, offer this special rendition of the song “Only Us” from the hit show.

The blockbuster musical chronicles the journey of a socially-awkward high school student (Evan Hansen) who has trouble making friends. 

In a twist of fate, the facts of a teen suicide get accidentally mixed up and he suddenly finds himself something of a hero, popular and spending time with his longtime crush. Except, it’s all based on an innocent falsehood that snowballs out of Evan’s control.

Evan eventually faces having to give up his newfound social status or live a lie.

At the 71st Tony Awards, Dear Evan Hansen took home six statues including Best Musical, and made a bona-fide star of its Tony Award winning leading man, Ben Platt.

While not a gay story, it’s certainly a theme LGBTs have gravitated to in terms of the character’s yearning for acceptance.

In the stage musical, “Only Us” is sung between Evan and his crush, Zoe.

In this Valentine’s Day version, we have two “Evan Hansens” singing to each other. Taylor Trensch, who played the title role on Broadway, and the national tour ‘Evan,’ Ben Levi Ross.

Sung by the two young men, the song shimmers in fresh and hopeful shades of gay.

I never thought there'd be someone like you who would want me
So I give you ten thousand reasons to not let me go
But if you really see me
If you like me for me and nothing else
Well, that's all that I've wanted for longer that you could possibly know
So it can be us
It can be us
And only us
And what came before won't count anymore or matter
We can try that

In fact, with two actors who played the same role, it could almost be interpreted as an ode of self-love.

And on Valentine’s Day, all love is celebrated - whether boyfriend, girlfriend, wife, husband or even the person in the mirror.

Most of the time, this writer is sharing some of the darker LGBTQ news of the day here on Instinct

For a change, I wanted to share something totally smile-worthy. 

 

 

Dear Evan Hansen is still running strong in New York City, London, Toronto and across the U.S. with its national touring company. Click here for more information about the show.

 

Four Men Charged In Late Night Austin, Texas, Gay Bashing

Four men have been arrested in connection with the brutal homophobic attack in downtown Austin, Texas, last month that sent the two victims to the hospital.

CBS Austin reports the four suspects are Frank Macias, Quinn O'Connor, Miguel Macias and Kolby Monnell.

All four suspects face two counts of second-degree felony assault. Their bonds have been set at $150,000 for each charge, for a total of $300,000.

According to CBS Austin, a second-degree aggravated assault charge, if convicted, could result in a prison sentence of two to 20 years. If a hate crime finding was successfully proven on top of that, the sentencing range would increase to five to 99 years in prison.

Officials say social media played a part in identifying some of the suspects by matching physical descriptions as well as tattoos, as well as surveillance footage from nearby buildings.

Additionally, the police received a crime stoppers tip naming Frank Macias and another individual.

The victims, Spencer Deehring and Tristan Perry, told police they were walking to their car after leaving Rain Nightclub on January 19.

The couple were holding hands when a man called them a homophobic slur. When they asked what he had said, the man began calling them 'f*ggots' and called to previously-unseen men who joined in the taunting.

Perry says the men began to follow them while verbally harassing them. Perry eventually tried to verbally defend himself, but was punched by a man described as muscular with long, blond hair.

He fell to the ground and according to reports, all four men began to kick and punch him. When Deehring tried to defend Perry, the men turned on him as well.

A witness came to their rescue and the men fled. Both Perry and Deehring were taken to Sell Seton Hospital to be treated for serious injuries.

Deehring positively identified Macias in a police lineup. Perry continues to experience memory loss due to the attack.

According to an affidavit, Frank Macias admitted to the attack and implicated his brother, Miguel, as well as O'Connor and Monnell, as taking part in the assault.

A GoFundMe campaign was set up to help the victims defray the costs of medical treatment and loss of income.

(h/t CBS Austin)

Authorities Reveal New Details About Pulse Nightclub Shooting

Nearly three years after the deadly mass shooting by Omar Mateen at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida, that left 49 people dead, authorities have cleared the 13 police officers and sheriff’s deputies who used their firearms in the incident, according to NBC News.

Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala and Assistant State Attorney Deborah Barra held a press conference today revealing new details about the deadly event that was once the worst mass killing in U.S. history.

All shootings that involve officers in the Sunshine State require review by local prosecutors. Ayala’s investigation showed all round that were fired by police that night were justified.

At the press conference, Barra shared that investigators were able to figure out Mateen spent some of the nearly-three hours in hiding in a nightclub restroom researching the internet on ways to unjam an assault rifle.

He also Googled how to spell “allegiance.”

Barra reports that the police and sheriff’s deputies fired 172 rounds at Mateen, hitting him seven times, after breaking through a wall and using a flash-bang grenade to confuse Mateen.

As the law enforcement officers approached his body, however, they noticed wires on him. In that Mateen had previously told police he had explosives, one officer fired one last shot at Mateen’s boday.

"When the officer walks up and, knowing that he had previously talked about bombs being present and he saw wires and whatnot, it only takes that for something terrible to happen," said Barra at today's press conference. "And so the officer made sure that did not happen."

The deadly shooting was the worst in American history until the October 1, 2017, attack in Las Vegas when Stephen Paddock killed 58 music festival attendees from a window at the Mandalay Bay Resort.

(h/t NBC News)

An Owner Of An El Paso Gay Bar Is Under Attack For Proudly Attending Trump Rally

An owner of a gay bar in El Paso, Texas, has come under fire for attending Donald Trump’s recent rally in his city.

Johnny Alcantar, one of five owners of The Old Plantation (known as the OP), not only took in the event but posted photos on his Instagram with other Trump supporters next to a Trump banner.

Alcantar has since deleted the post, but not before it was screen captured.

A local drag queen and DJ, Puto Kahlo, noticed the post and shared it via social media saying he was “disgusted.”

In his Facebook post, Kahlo wrote, “Y’all, straight people are the first to try to profit off of our community and our art but won’t hesitate to support a man who has called trans people burdens, hasn’t done shit for community but try to erase us, degraded women, and perpetuated racist and xenophobic rhetoric.”

The post has been shared over 700 times at this writing.

Owner and CEO of the Old Plantation, Mark Adkins, apologized in a statement saying,”The Old Plantation Nightclub does NOT support Trump’s views or opinions especially towards our LGBTQ community.”

Adkins went on to say Alcantar is a minority stakeholder in the club and does not “represent The Old Plantation, its ownership or our community in any way.”

Additionally, the statement noted Alcantar had been spoken to about the Instagram post and “expressed his regret for posting about the rally on social media and his fundamental lack of knowledge about the ways in which Trump’s administration is working to stifle the rights of the LGBTQ community, as well as the rights of others in the greater El Paso community.”

The CEO closed his message saying, “It’s very easy to forget how to express and show love and respect when politicians, including our own president, are spreading division through their words and policies. We have faith, however, that love will always win.”

Local news station KTSM spoke with Alcantar who said he only attended the rally to see a sitting president.

"It was never my intention to hurt anyone," Alcantar told KTSM. "I didn't know the stuff that Trump was passing."

"I don't agree with everything that Donald Trump says," he added, "But I have to support our President because he's our current president; I don't have any other choice."

Alcantar also mentioned he “has gay friends and family members.” 

Some members of the El Paso LGBTQ community are calling for a boycott of the club, which recently reopened after years of being shuttered.

What do you think, readers? 

Is it plausible a straight man who invested in a gay bar in Texas had no inkling of Donald Trump’s attacks on the LGBTQ community?

Should the local community hold the bar responsible for a “minority stakeholder” attending a Trump rally?

Share your thoughts in the comments below.

(h/t KTSM, Facebook)

Tony Award Winner Ben Platt Comes Out, Drops Touching Video "Ease My Mind"

For several years now, Broadway’s sensitive ‘golden boy,’ Ben Platt has captured the hearts and minds of theater audiences with his show-stopping performances in The Book of Mormon and his Tony Award-winning turn as the anxious, social misfit “Evan Hansen” in the hit musical, Dear Evan Hansen.

Now, he’s set his sights on conquering the music industry with his first solo album, Sing To Me Instead, set to drop on March 29.

He recently released the first two music videos from the album, both directed by longtime friend Nick Lieberman. 

At the end of “Bad Habit,” after spending the bulk of the song missing a former lover, a last second shot revealed that lover to be out actor Charlie Carver (Teen Wolf, Boys in the Band).

At the time, this writer wondered, “Did Ben Platt just come out?”

In an exclusive interview with PEOPLE, Platt does just that as he shares that he wanted his audience to hear from the authentic “Ben."

“If I was going to write about people I loved, I wasn’t going to pretend they weren’t men just because I hadn’t talked about that before,” Platt tells PEOPLE

As he worked with a team of songwriters to create what he wanted to be a deeply personal statement about who he is, Platt felt the album would be his “first opportunity to represent my relationships and the men that I’ve loved.”

“I only wanted to take this leap if I was going to present every part of myself,” he adds.

Always a storyteller, Platt knew he wanted the collection of songs to have an arc that covered not only his personal relationships but “a grander perspective about bigger questions about family and mortality and things like that.”

Platt released the music video for the gospel-tinged, “Ease My Mind,” today again incorporating a relationship with Charlie Carver in the story arc.

 

 

With the album release date looming on the horizon, Platt is also prepping for a concert tour to support the record.

“As a kid, I wanted to do an original musical and get a Tony, and so the fact that that happened is such a freeing thing,” says Platt. “Now I can sort of go down another path and see where that leads.”

(h/t PEOPLE)

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