Houston’s Trans Community Faces Extra Hurdles in Harvey Recovery

After Hurricane Harvey dropped several feet of rain on the ground in Houston, Texas, all Houstonians face a rocky road to recovery. But, as the rainwater subsides, discrimination could erect several barriers between transgender people and the help they need, according to advocates who spoke to INTO.

Though exact numbers in Houston are unknown, Texas has the second-highest number of trans residents in the United States, second only to California. And, according to Lou Weaver, transgender program coordinator at Equality Texas, Houston was already a fraught space for trans people before the storm devastated the area and its surrounding suburbs. Weaver said that the “trans community has been highlighted in a horrible way” the past few years.

“Targets have been painted on people’s backs,” Weaver said. “That has led to increased scrutiny of the trans and nonbinary community and who we are.”

According to Robin Mack, a board member of Houston’s Transgender Foundation of America, the problems that trans people face stem from state-sanctioned stigma. Aside from surviving Hurricane Harvey, the state’s trans residents have also been through a turbulent few legislative years. In 2015, the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance failed to pass, paving the way for unapologetic discrimination against transgender people. Only two years after HERO, Texas governor Greg Abbott called a 30-day special legislative session directly aimed at enacting a “bathroom bill” like North Carolina’s HB2 to limit transgender people’s ability to choose which restroom is appropriate for themselves.

“We’re in a time where it’s not safe to be a trans person,” Mack told INTO in a phone interview. “We’re questioning if it’s safe as a trans person to go to the bathroom. Is it safe to be a trans person who is out and visible? Not really.”

That fear of being trans in public leads to a question about how long hospitality may last in Houston’s shelter system. Houston’s George R Brown Convention Center has already gone beyond maxed out: the space is holding 11,000 people, double its estimated capacity.

According to Weaver, widespread discrimination at homeless shelters means many transgender people may forego seeking them out, even if they have the financial means (a car, gas money, etc.) to access them. According to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, 55% of transgender people report harassment or discrimination at homeless shelters.

Weaver and Mack both said they had not heard any instances yet of trans people being denied shelter. But, Weaver said, that doesn’t mean some people aren’t staying away from shelters altogether.

“Trans people are so used to being denied services or access to a shelter,” he said.

For those who were homeless or who were housing insecure, documents that accurately reflected their gender may be lost in the waters. Without up-to-date documentation, which is extremely hard to get in Texas, recovery is a tough road.

“Houston’s water is going to drain and a lot of people are not going to have homes to come back to,” Mack said. “How do you find a welcoming landlord? How do you find resources?”

Sociologists already know that natural disasters push people into poverty. Unfortunately, for transgender people, poverty and homelessness are already common. After Harvey, transphobia could prove truly deadly if it hinders trans Houstonians from resuming life again.

“It’s going to be an even harder environment now that everything is flooded,” Mack said. “Who knows what the havoc is underneath all this water? We don’t know until it dries out.”

Houston’s Trans Community Faces Extra Hurdles in Harvey Recovery

After Hurricane Harvey dropped several feet of rain on the ground in Houston, Texas, all Houstonians face a rocky road to recovery. But, as the rainwater subsides, discrimination could erect several barriers between transgender people and the help they need, according to advocates who spoke to INTO.

Though exact numbers in Houston are unknown, Texas has the second-highest number of trans residents in the United States, second only to California. And, according to Lou Weaver, transgender program coordinator at Equality Texas, Houston was already a fraught space for trans people before the storm devastated the area and its surrounding suburbs. Weaver said that the “trans community has been highlighted in a horrible way” the past few years.

“Targets have been painted on people’s backs,” Weaver said. “That has led to increased scrutiny of the trans and nonbinary community and who we are.”

According to Robin Mack, a board member of Houston’s Transgender Foundation of America, the problems that trans people face stem from state-sanctioned stigma. Aside from surviving Hurricane Harvey, the state’s trans residents have also been through a turbulent few legislative years. In 2015, the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance failed to pass, paving the way for unapologetic discrimination against transgender people. Only two years after HERO, Texas governor Greg Abbott called a 30-day special legislative session directly aimed at enacting a “bathroom bill” like North Carolina’s HB2 to limit transgender people’s ability to choose which restroom is appropriate for themselves.

“We’re in a time where it’s not safe to be a trans person,” Mack told INTO in a phone interview. “We’re questioning if it’s safe as a trans person to go to the bathroom. Is it safe to be a trans person who is out and visible? Not really.”

That fear of being trans in public leads to a question about how long hospitality may last in Houston’s shelter system. Houston’s George R Brown Convention Center has already gone beyond maxed out: the space is holding 11,000 people, double its estimated capacity.

According to Weaver, widespread discrimination at homeless shelters means many transgender people may forego seeking them out, even if they have the financial means (a car, gas money, etc.) to access them. According to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, 55% of transgender people report harassment or discrimination at homeless shelters.

Weaver and Mack both said they had not heard any instances yet of trans people being denied shelter. But, Weaver said, that doesn’t mean some people aren’t staying away from shelters altogether.

“Trans people are so used to being denied services or access to a shelter,” he said.

For those who were homeless or who were housing insecure, documents that accurately reflected their gender may be lost in the waters. Without up-to-date documentation, which is extremely hard to get in Texas, recovery is a tough road.

“Houston’s water is going to drain and a lot of people are not going to have homes to come back to,” Mack said. “How do you find a welcoming landlord? How do you find resources?”

Sociologists already know that natural disasters push people into poverty. Unfortunately, for transgender people, poverty and homelessness are already common. After Harvey, transphobia could prove truly deadly if it hinders trans Houstonians from resuming life again.

“It’s going to be an even harder environment now that everything is flooded,” Mack said. “Who knows what the havoc is underneath all this water? We don’t know until it dries out.”

A Hilarious ‘Will & Grace’ Super-Sized Sneak Peek Trailer Just Dropped

Everyone’s favorite foursome is coming back to NBC.

In a new, laugh-filled trailer that just hit the web, Will (Eric McCormack), Grace (Debra Messing), Karen (Megan Mullally) and Jack (Sean Hayes) are back together again and, as Will says in the clip, “We know it’s going to be exactly the same.”

Interspersed in the trailer are interviews with the cast and classic clips from the initial run’s funniest moments. But, rather than just riding the nostalgia train, the clip proves that there are plenty of new jokes to crack. In one scene, Karen and Grace are travelling together via train. When Karen keeps dancing in her seat with her headphones in, Grace pulls them out and asks what she’s listening to.

Karen’s response? “Fox News!”

It’s funny cuz it’s true.

Will & Grace graces NBC’s Thursday line-up again on September 28.

A Hilarious ‘Will & Grace’ Super-Sized Sneak Peek Trailer Just Dropped

Everyone’s favorite foursome is coming back to NBC.

In a new, laugh-filled trailer that just hit the web, Will (Eric McCormack), Grace (Debra Messing), Karen (Megan Mullally) and Jack (Sean Hayes) are back together again and, as Will says in the clip, “We know it’s going to be exactly the same.”

Interspersed in the trailer are interviews with the cast and classic clips from the initial run’s funniest moments. But, rather than just riding the nostalgia train, the clip proves that there are plenty of new jokes to crack. In one scene, Karen and Grace are travelling together via train. When Karen keeps dancing in her seat with her headphones in, Grace pulls them out and asks what she’s listening to.

Karen’s response? “Fox News!”

It’s funny cuz it’s true.

Will & Grace graces NBC’s Thursday line-up again on September 28.

A Weekend In Phoenix — While Never Leaving Downtown

I have a soft spot for Phoenix.

When my parents left Southern California for the desert, I had already been long gone from the nest, so I figured it would be like going on vacation each time I went to go see them.

At one point, I even liked it so much that I tried to lay some roots there, but my constant travels and need for a nearby beach kept me from ever committing to the city I had seen transform over the years. Way back in the day when I first would visit, downtown Phoenix was definitely lackluster and besides the few gay bars and the monthly art walk, there was no real reason to be there, as it was mostly scarce and abandoned after regular working hours.

But today, downtown is booming with new residential high-rise buildings and incredible restaurants, and nowmodern, boutique hotels, which are attracting a new clientele outside of the convention-goers which typically dominate the downtown mega-hotels.

Granted, outside of their politics, Arizona is a beautiful state, one of my favorites. There is so much to see and experience all around, like Sedona, the Grand Canyon, Flagstaff, etc. Within the Phoenix Metro area, there are really great cities like Mesa, Glendale, and Scottsdale. And within Phoenix proper, there are many neighborhoods worth checking out like Biltmore, Arcadia Lite, and Central Phoenix.

But I’m determined to really hone in on the Downtown Phoenix area and keep it all on things to see and do within the Central Avenue vicinitybecause there’s enough to talk about within a 2 mile stretch of road.

Where To Eat:

DeSoto Central Market

Located in the center of the arts district, Roosevelt Row, DeSoto Central Market is all about community and providing a gathering place reminiscent of a time when the daily market was the heart of every city.

The market is a combination of boutique eateries, an artisanal market, and a deco-era bar, a bar that serves one hell of a bloody mary: The Kraken, a three-course meal in a mug which has some unusual garnishments like a cheeseburger slider and a homemade dessert that really make it one of a kind.

Joyride
One of my absolute favorite Mexican restaurants, check this place out during their infamous happy hours. Every day from 11am-5pm they have $5 margaritas, pitchers of beer, wines by the glass, and spiked agua frescas – and since day drinking is one of my favorite pastimes, now you see why I love this place. That, and the tacos are ridiculously good.

Windsor

Also with a $5 until 5pm daily happy hour (same owners as Joyride and many others on this list), this place is great for some typical pub food and craft cocktails. They’ve also got an impressive brown booze menu featuring Irish whiskey, single malt scotch, and blended scotch, as well as Canadian, bourbon, and rye options.

Federal Pizza

Federal Pizza is housed in a restored First Federal Bank from the 1950’s. The architecture is mid-century modern while the pizza is wood fired. If you don’t want to dine in, feel free to order ahead and then drive right up to their drive-thru window to pick up your order, but don’t forget your growler of beer. Federal Pizza has an extensive and thirst-quenching selection of beers just calling out to be taken home in a 64oz growler.

Phoenix Public Market Cafe

A casual urban hangout offering all three meals a day, Phoenix Public Market Café’s goal is to provide the downtown community a place to gather and enjoy a meal together. But come breakfast time, the cooks are usually bombarded with orders for their house made biscuits and gravy. The dish is served with two eggs (any style), chorizo gravy, and of course, the house made biscuits – you’ll hate and love yourself for indulging.

Clever Koi

It’s evident from the love and attention that goes into their menu that this place is awesome, and the food and cocktails at Clever Koi are expertly crafted. Lunchtime here is fun as guests can build their own bowls with noodles, stir-fry, or rice options serving as the base. It’s a quick way to enjoy a delicious lunch at a great price. Pro tip: add on a small bite (the chicken & waffle bun is out of this world). Full disclosure, the owner is a friend of mine, but really, they’ve already opened a second location so you don’t have to take my word for it, the proof is out there.

Postino

Ok, so it’s Monday and Tuesday that makes this place perfect for a date because on either night, diners can order a bottle of wine and a bruschetta for only $20. Bruschetta options include smoked salmon and pesto, tomato jam with fresh sheep’s milk cheese, and brie with apples and fig spread. It’s possible to mix and match your bruschetta, so don’t worry about not knowing which to choose.

FEZ

Another Phoenix icon with a new location closer to downtown, FEZ offers up an eclectic menu. But it’s the twelve different burger options here that should call your attention, besides their really great happy hour. Burgers come in all sorts of flavor combinations, but the Bleu Cheese Balsamic with a half pound grilled Angus burger, balsamic glaze, Danish bleu cheese, spinach, red onion & aioli is a great first one to start with. Pair that burger with some spicy harissa fries or garlic and rosemary fries for a fun flavor combo.

Churn

Here you will find all sorts of sweet treats, including old-school candy, but the ice cream is what takes the cake. The rotating menu will make you want to come daily to try new flavors. From goat cheese, honey, pistachio, to Mexican chocolate, there is a flavor to please all. If you happen to see the Hangover Helper on the menu, give it a try and don’t let the ingredients turn you off because somehow, they work.

MATCH

Located in the hotel I’m about to talk about below, MATCH Cuisine & Cocktails is FOUND:RE’s on-site eatery. It offers a creative menu of social plates focusing on eclectic, globally-inspired street food, made with locally sourced ingredients whenever possible, served in a fun, vibrant atmosphere that channels the spirited downtown art scene.

Where To Sleep:

During my last trip to Phoenix, I stayed at the new FOUND:RE Hotel, a boutique, art-focused gem with an equally amazing restaurant (see above, like literallyyou just read about it). After I made my reservation, I was contacted by the staff and was asked if I wanted to take part in a new wellness program they had in partnership with IV Revival. They offered shooters (actual injections) as single or multiple intramuscular injections of B Complex 21, CoQ10, anti-nausea & anti-inflammatory, which leave you feeling relaxed before going home or give you some energy at the start of the trip. I, of course, decided to just go for a full on IV bag with anything and everything they could (safely) place inside. It was the first time I had purposely asked for an IV treatment, and being inside my really spacious hotel room made it kind of addicting.

The rooms at the hotel are really big and industrial chic with a lot of the beds placed in the center of the room, making it possible to walk around them. My favorite feature was the large sink that sort of doubled as two sinks, one inside the shower and the other in the hallway. But the main attraction is that the hotel itself is an art museum, one that truly focuses on local art. Their in-house expert curator has meticulously selected works of art to grace the walls, but the art is ever changing so each time you come, expect something new (unless you are going like every weekendwhich you should). But, it’s the massive “Burtney” that’s behind the front desk that will probably blow you away (it’s for sale, so you could ruin it for everyone and take it home if you wanted). “Burtney,” a painting of a nude Burt Reynolds, created by Phoenix artist Randy Slack. The painting is a salute to Reynolds’ iconic 1972 centerfold in Cosmopolitan, with an assist from Caitlyn Jenner. “Burtney” has Jenner’s hair, which Slack painted blond to resemble both Reynolds’ ex-wife Loni Anderson and Britney Spears. (I had to borrow that epic description from Phoenix Magazine.)

Where to Art:

The really great thing about this part of town is that there is art all over the place. From the killer David Bowie murals, to Roosevelt Row (RoRo), a walkable creative arts district in the urban core of downtown, to the endless sculptures (including some really unique ones found at each Light Rail stop – yes, they have a metro system, and it goes straight down Central Avenue), there’s enough art to satisfy your thirsty art-craving needs. But for the mother load of art, one would need to visit the Phoenix Art Museum, which has provided access to visual arts and educational programs in Arizona for more than 50 years and is the largest art museum in the Southwestern United States.

Critically acclaimed national and international exhibitions are shown alongside the Museum’s permanent collection of more than 18,000 works of American, Asian, European, Latin American, Western American, modern and contemporary art, and fashion design. There’s also a really cool T-Rex sculpture outside that’s worth an Instagram photo. The museum shop inside is also filled with some quirky gifts or souvenirs.

Here’s How LGBTQ Ugandans Are Fighting Back After Pride Was Shut Down

Uganda made headlines earlier this month when its Pride festival was shut down, but advocates say it wasn’t the parade being canceled that hurt the most. It’s that organizers weren’t even allowed to come together for a drink.

On Thursday, Aug. 17, it was announced that Pride events would be pulled for the second year in a row. Last year’s cancellation of Pride coincided with the arrest of 15 individuals during a raid of the Mr. and Mrs. Pride Pageant; at least one person was hospitalized. But activists say that as this year’s festivities were being planned, Ethics and Integrity Minister Simon Lokodo began to personally harass them.

These threats were made extremely public. The minister stated in a press conference that if a parade were to be held, he would gather mobs of vigilantes to attack anyone in attendance.

The pressure on LGBTQ groups intensified after Lokodo forced Kampala’s Sheraton Hotel to nix the opening gala for Pride, scheduled for Wednesday. Organizers learned of its cancellation just hours before guests were expected to arrive. The gala would have brought together 300 people, an unprecedented number. Attendees traveled from all across the world to be there.

But Matt Beard, executive director of the LGBTQ advocacy group All Out, tells INTO that the real “low point” wouldn’t hit until the following day.

After the gala was blocked, organizers made the decision to disband the rest of its weeklong program of events. They were concerned about reliving the horrors of the year prior. In place of an official Pride event, 30 volunteers from the group decided to meet for drinks at a local bar. The gathering was informal and in no way related to its programming, Beard claims. The bar was even open to the public.

But word quickly leaked to Lokodo, who began to send group members threatening text messages. The minister warned that he knew where they were meeting.

“I got the sense that the movement had really hit rock bottom that day,” says Beard, who was on the ground in Uganda during the incident. “This is a movement of people who are brave and defiant. They have an incredible hunger for the justice and equality they deserve. But by Thursday evening, things had really deteriorated.”

LGBTQ people have effectively been forced to go back to the drawing boardyet againin one of the world’s most difficult countries to be a sexual or gender minority. But even in the face of unimaginable challenges, the community remains resilient.

•••

The 2015 Gay Happiness Index (GHI) survey showed that Uganda has the poorest quality of life for LGBTQ people. The country tied with Sudan for this dubious honor. It’s not hard to see why. Although the Anti-Homosexuality Act was struck down on a constitutional challenge in 2014, Uganda is one of 34 countries in Africa where homosexuality remains illegal. Persons arrested for engaging in same-sex activity can serve up to a maximum of life in prison.

That law, an unfortunate holdover from the colonial era, has had a profound impact on public opinion in the majority Christian country: 96 percent of Ugandans claimed that society should not accept LGBTQ people in a 2013 poll from the Pew Research Center.

Many queer and trans people, fearing persecution, stay in the closet. Being out can come with severe and brutal consequences. Megan Nankabirwa, a lesbian sports star, was forced to flee Uganda earlier this year when her sexual orientation was discovered. The 30-year-old was chased through the streets by an angry mob. Nankabirwa and her partner have since applied for asylum in the United Kingdom.

But Isaac Mugisha, an organizer with Pride, tells INTO that something happened when the Anti-Homosexuality Act was nullified three years ago: People began to come out in unprecedented numbers.

“The visibility of the LGBTQ community in Uganda has increased since 2014,” says Mugisha, who believes the public bravery of queer and trans people has triggered panic among state officials. “The movement has grownthat is why the government is not sleeping. They are scared. As much as it has come at a huge cost, it is very positive.”

The ongoing challenge for that growing community will be finding meeting spaces and ways to organize that aren’t threatened by the prejudice of ministers with an animus toward the LGBTQ community. Frederick, a Ugandan activist who asked to use a pseudonym for this story, says that queer and trans people often find ways to meet in secret. But there’s always the looming danger of someone discovering the gathering and reporting it to Lokodo.

“We have to behave carefully,” Frederick says in an email. “We always have to take precautions.”

A closed-door event held in place of this year’s Pride gala shows just how absurdly laborious it can be for LGBTQ people to assemble peacefully in Uganda. Beard says that attendees had to be picked up by a driver who took them to an undisclosed location. When they arrived at the venue, guests had to be taken through an underground parking garage to get to a private meeting room.

“For the small number of people who were able to get to this event, it was a really wonderful evening,” says Beard of the Aug. 19 event, which was thrown by the Swedish LGBTQ group Rainbow Riots. Around 40 people were in attendance.

Whether a public parade will be possible in the future, though, remains uncertain. Advocates say that LGBTQ people have a right to organize under the country’s constitutional codes, and the government stated in 2015 that it would begin allowing Pride events to be held. But Beard says that Lokodo has a “big problem” with the word “Pride.” The minister has claimed that these this term is synonymous with the recruitment and promotion of homosexuality.

“No gay gathering and promotion can be allowed in Uganda,” Lokodo told The Guardian. “This is totally unacceptable.”

What LGBTQ activists will have to do, Mugisha says, is figure out “how to have Pride the Ugandan way.” Following the cancellation of this year’s events, organizers have been meeting to figure out what to call the festival. That discussion, thus far, has left the community with more questions than answers. If you don’t call it Pride, does it lose its meaning? What if next year’s event is canceled againno matter what they call it?

But Mugisha claims that Uganda’s LGBTQ community won’t be waiting until next August to move forward from its devastating month. Pride is too important.

“Pride is one of the few moments where the LGBTQ community can come out, socialize, and feel safe,” he says. “It’s important for community building that we’re able to come together. If it’s taken away, we will lose a big part of our movement.”

When Your Boyfriend Is A Destiny’s Child Lyric

Hola Papi,

I am from India, where you might know that homosexuality is regarded as a crime. While we hope and wait for acceptance in our country, what’s more agonizing is that we ourselves (LGBTQ crowd) are yet to accept each other.

So there is this guy I met via Grindr. We chatted for a few days, and a week later I went to his house for what was supposed to be a coffee date. But one thing led to another, and it ended up as a hookup (without any intercourse).

What I thought would be a one-time fling turned into frequent meet-ups. But even though I am a so-called “straight acting guy” (god knows what that means), he is scared to even let me go in front of his roommates. I feel like I have committed a theft when I go to his room. But then again, he seems to be so caring.

I am totally sick of this and I want to never meet him again, but the fact remains that he is the only guy who has compassion and isn’t like the typical fuck-and-forget crowd. I don’t know what is happening. I feel like a fool.

Regards,

Nameless.

I’m going to be honest with you, Nameless. Your email has been haunting my inbox since I received it. Every once in a while, between online shopping, reading nuclear missile updates, and exchanging (extremely wholesome) pics (of my face only) on Grindr, I would think of your letter. And I would think of you, out there in this confusing relationship, and I would worry about you.

The truth is, I can’t pretend to know the first thing about your situation in India, or about your country’s views on LGBTQ rights and identity. I can do my best to learn, but it will never quite match up to what you know from walking around in your shoes every day.
And so in the moments when your letter surfaced in my mind like the shark fromJaws, I thought to myself, “What if I give him the wrong advice?”

I could tell you that you deserve a man who is proud of you. That would be true. I could also tell you that there are men out there who would be all too happy to introduce you to their friends. That, too, would be true. But I would be saying those things perched in a coffee shop in a progressive city where homosexuality isn’t a crime.

What if, in my American ignorance, I gave you advice that hurt you, or hurt this man?
These were my worries, Nameless. You’ve stressed me out quite a bit, as you can see. But I did not launchHola Papi!to complain. Though I would love a column where I only complained. Give me a word limit and a decent rate, and I’m there. No, I am here to help you as best I can. And when I read your letter, funny as it might sound, I saw something so heartbreakingly familiar that I knew I at least had to try.

I know how that distance feels, Nameless. I know what it feels like when he moves his hand away from yours when someone walks by. When he introduces you as just a friend, or doesn’t introduce you at all. When he scoots ever so slightly away from you. The distance can be so small, but it doesn’t matter. It’s an emotional distance. An abandonment, of sorts. It says, “I’m ashamed of you.” And it hurts.

It punched me right in the gut when you said that you feel like you’ve committed a theft when you leave his room. Oof. That’s not a feeling anyone should have to feel. And yet, I know so many of us have felt it.

Isn’t it wonderful and strange and sad, Nameless, that we can have similar experiences and yet be so far away from one another? That, without even knowing it or thinking about it, someone on the other side of the world is feeling what you’re feeling? I suppose that’s the magic of our community. Or the magic of Grindr. Or both, why not?

But I noticed something in your letter that I’d like to push back on a little because I think it might help you contextualize what’s going on here. You say that we LGBTQ people are waiting for acceptance, and yet we haven’t accepted each other. That can certainly be true. I know plenty of gay men who are downright nasty to one another, and gay men who only care about the capital G in this acronym of ours. But, Nameless, in situations like yours, it’s also often the case that it’s a matter of someone not accepting themselves.

The pain you feel from this otherwise kind, compassionate man not accepting you, I reckon, is similar to a pain he probably feels as well. When he doesn’t claim you in front of other people, do you think it’s because he’s rejecting you, or is it because he’s rejecting himself?

It’s a vicious cycle, Nameless. It truly is. And it’s unfortunate. But in a world where we are taught that there’s something wrong with being who we are, it can be a long, difficult journey to self-acceptance. That rejection sits inside of us, and is fed every single day; when a friend makes an off-color joke, when we hear a slur, when people we care about say things like, “I’m just not comfortable with it.” It takes deep root and it germinates. It can make us hate and reject ourselves. It can make us ashamed.

That is what I believe this is about. And so, the question then becomes: Are you willing to navigate that with him?

I must reiterate that, at the end of the day, I don’t have to worry about the criminalization of homosexuality in my country. I am a big dumb American whose ridiculous head is filled with Cheese Whiz and John Cena memes.

But nonetheless, I do know this much: Every relationship comes with its unique set of challenges, and every relationship requires some level of compromise. We have to be willing, however, to take a thorough inventory of what we’re able to give, and determine how much is too much.

So I want you to put it all on the scales, Nameless. I want you to, on one side, weigh the pain of being hidden. Weigh all the times he hasn’t claimed you, and all the times you’ve been hurt. And then, on the other side, I want you to weigh the things you like. Weigh the fact that he’s compassionate, and the way you feel around him when things are good.

And then, on one of those sides, Nameless, I want you to weigh yourself. You. Your happiness, your well being, your limits of what you’re willing to wait for, and your reasonable, measured expectations of how this is all going to turn out. If you do that, and it comes down to a place where you find yourself having to choose between him and you, well, count me in as a humble advocate of “you.”

‘Offensive and Hurtful’ Attack Ad Claims Gay Marriage Makes Kids Transgender

An anti-LGBTQ attack ad aired in Australia on Tuesday night warning that same-sex marriage will turn the country’s children transgender.

Ahead of a national straw poll on marriage equality set to be conducted in September, the 30-second segment claims that a “Yes” could have destructive consequences. Cella White, a mother of four, tells the camera that her son’s school said he “could wear a dress next year if he felt like it.”

Another mother warns that the recognition of same-sex relationships in other countries has led to the “compulsory” adoption of gender non-conformity in schools.

A third claims that children in schools are already asked by teachers “to role play being in a same-sex relationship,” suggesting that this curriculum could become widespread if a same-sex marriage bill were to pass.

“In countries with gay marriage, parents have lost their right to choose,” the ad concludes in black-and-white title card. “We have a choice. You can say no.”

The commercial was produced by the right-wing Coalition for Marriage, a Christian lobby group which claims on its website that religious people in favor of “traditional marriage” are being discriminated against. “People’s careers are being harmed, couples seeking to adopt or foster are being excluded, and schools are expected to teach the new definition to children,” its site reads.

“People should not feel pressurised [sic] to go along with same-sex marriage just because of political correctness,” the Coalition elsewhere claims.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham condemned the attack ad in a Wednesday speech delivered to the press. He claims that the commercial conflates an upcoming plebiscitein which Australians will be polled on their views of same-sex marriagewith the country’s Safe Schools program. That curriculum teaches students acceptance of LGBTQ identities.

“Look, there is only one question on the ballot paper: ‘Should same-sex marriage be allowed in Australia?’” Birmingham says, calling the ad “patently ridiculous.”

Although 61 percent of Australians support marriage equality, the country Down Under is one of the few English-speaking nations where same-sex unions have yet to be legalized. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said that he won’t consider allowing a free vote in the Parliament until Australians are able to sound off on the issue. That poll, which is non-binding, will begin on September 12.

LGBTQ groups, however, opposed putting civil rights up to a public vote, arguing that it would invite incendiary rhetoric from religious extremists.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten claimed in a statement that the attack ad proved advocates right, calling it “offensive and hurtful.” Shorten, who represents the country’s Labor Party, accused Turnbull of “giving the green light to this rubbish.”

This isn’t the first instance of anti-LGBTQ backlash in recent weeks.

After the plebiscite was announced, news reports claimed that posters advising conservatives to “Stop the Fags” were “plastered all over Melbourne.” The flier, which depicts two men holding rainbow belts in front of a hunched over little boy, claims that 92 percent of children raised in same-sex households are abused by their parents. (Note: Some reports have questioned the legitimacy of those posters.)

Australians will have until November 7 to vote on marriage equality. After that time, Parliament will consider the public’s recommendation.

LCD Soundsystem’s Gavin Russom Condemns Trans Military Ban: ‘It’s Heartbreaking’

LCD Soundsystem’s Gavin Russom calls President Trump’s decision to ban transgender people from military service “heartbreaking” in a Wednesday interview with Billboard.

Russom, who came out as trans earlier this year in an INTO profile, sat down with transgender rapper KC Ortiz to discuss the recently enacted policy. In a series of tweets posted in July, the president claimed that allowing trans people to serve in the military is expensive and a disruption. A Friday memo signed by Trump put that proposal into action, even despite the fact that both of the president’s claims have been debunked.

“When I found out about it, it was… heartbreaking,” Russom tells the music magazine. “I was getting on the plane to my job, being a touring musician, and I thought, ‘Well, what if the order was that there can’t be trans people in the music business?’”

Although the 43-year-old is “anti-war,” she claims that it’s a complex issue for the trans community. Many transgender people, Russom says, enlist in the armed forces because they don’t have another choice. Trans troops might be kicked out of their homes after coming out and struggle to find another job due to discrimination.

“The military is almost a refuge for them, especially people who come from economic backgrounds where college is out of reach,” Russom claims. “It’s a place to have basic needs taken care of.”

Ortiz, an air force veteran who came out after serving, says her experience was similar. The rapper initially didn’t want to sign up for the military. The reason she went into the armed forces, Ortiz tells Billboard, is that her mother thought that it would make her straight. The day that she left for the military, Ortiz says her mother reminded her that she wouldn’t be welcomed unless she changed.

“You’re not my child,” Ortiz remembers her mother saying.

“When I was in the Air Force, all I was thinking was ‘I have nothing to go back to,’” Ortiz explains, “and the first thing I thought of was how many people are in the military right now in the same situation where they have nothing to go back to.”

Estimates vary on the number of people who stand to be discharged by the military when the police takes effect in March. The Williams Institute, a pro-LGBTQ think tank at the University of California Los Angeles, hasclaimed that more than 15,500 trans peopleserve in the armed forces. The Rand Corporation, however,tabulated the military’s trans populationas numbering between 1,300 and 6,600 people.

The Trump policy will give Defense Secretary Gen. James Mattis wide discretion to decide on whether or not to relive troops of their duties, which will be determined on a case-by-casis basis.

Ortiz calls the Trump memo “blatant discrimination.” Russom adds that the decision was meant to divert the public’s attention from the many scandals that continue to plague the White House. Prior to the announcement of Trump’s trans military ban, the president received widespread condemnation for his failure to condemn white supremacy following the violence in Charlottesville.

“It’s about distracting people from what’s really going on, but it affects real people’s lives,” Russom claims.

Russom is set to begin touring next month with LCD Soundsystem, the acclaimed indie band in which she plays the synthesizer. The dance punk group’s fourth album, American Dream, is due out Friday.

People Attacked Ruby Rose for Donating to Houston’s LGBT Center

Get ready for a deep and prolonged eyeroll.

On Wednesday, genderfluid icon, queer crush magnet and Orange Is the New Black actress Ruby Rose tweeted that she would make a hefty donation of $10,000 to Houston’s Montrose LGBT Center to help survivors of Hurricane Harvey. Rose donated the money after musician Jack Antonoff urged his followers to open their wallets for Houstonians in need.

Unlike Rose, the internet was not feeling very charitable after her announcement.

Rose later tweeted out images of critiques levied against her on social media. Several commenters complained that she was donating to “just one group of people,” and said that “all lives matter,” not just LGBTQ people.

LGBTQ people were also very vulnerable to the storm. Natural disasters disproportionately affect those living in poverty. Given the high numbers of LGBTQ people who experience homelessness and the community’s particularly high poverty rates, there’s no doubt that Houston’s LGBTQ community is in need of help, as well.

Snaps to Rose for putting her money where her mouth is. Haters, back off.