LA District Attorney Grants Immunity to Potential Witnesses in Gemmel Moore Death Investigation

Several young men who could assist the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office in its investigation into Gemmel Moore’s death have been granted immunity, human rights attorney and legal consultant Nana Gyamfi announced, according to WeHoville. Moore, 26, was found dead in the home of Democratic political donor Ed Buck in West Hollywood, California, on July 27.

(photocredit: Facebook,)

In a phone interview with INTO, Moore’s mother LaTisha Nixon expressed joy with the decision.

“I’m happy,” she said. “I’m so delighted. Just happy.”

Nixon previously pleaded with the West Hollywood City Council to grant the young men immunity, WeHoville reported. Moore’s death was originally ruled a drug overdose. As several speakers noted at anAugust 18 vigil for Moore outside the West Hollywood sheriff’s office, the West Hollywood Sheriff did not launch an investigation into his death for several weeks.

In the immunity announcement, Jasmyne Cannick, a journalist and activist covering Moore’s death, said that since Moore’s death, “several men have come forward recounting stories about Buck who they say has a Tuskegee Experiment-like fetish which includes shooting drugs into young Black men that he picks up off the street or via dating hookup websites.”

At the August 18 vigil, Cannick also publicly called for the West Hollywood sheriff’s office to treat potential witnesses with sensitivity and grant them immunity.

“We want Ed Buck’s victims to be treated as victims,” she said.

“We are pleased that the district attorney has finally provided a binding written agreement of immunity,” attorney Nana Gyamfi told WeHoville. “Gemmel Moore’s family along with the community who helped pushed for immunity, expect that the information provided by these victims will be used to pursue criminal charges against Ed Buck for the murder of Gemmel as well as other sex, drug and related violent crimes against black gay men.”

“We also hope that the granting of immunity will encourage other victims of Ed Buck’s to step forward out of the shadows without fear of being prosecuted for doing what they’ve done to survive,” Gyamfi continued.

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Photos courtesy of Facebook

‘A Force of Nature’: Lesbian Producer Behind ‘Eating Out’ and ‘Shelter’ Dies at 51

JD Disalvatore died “with her boots on.” That’s what a friend told me over the phone this week, just days after the openly lesbian producer and director, best known for the GLAAD-winning Shelter, passed away on Aug. 24 in her Sherman Oaks home. It’s telling about her personality I had to halt the conversation to check that the 51-year-old, a beloved figure in Los Angeles’ LGBTQ community, did not actually pass away while wearing boots.

The phrase is a common idiom, but that detail would have been entirely plausible for a woman described alternately by those who knew her as a “force of nature,” “indomitable,” and a “badass.”

Born in Plymouth, Mass., Disalvatore’s parents met after the bombing of Pearl Harbor during World War II. She spent her childhood in Belgium, but would go onto study Communications at Boston University. Disalvatore got her start in Hollywood working in visual effects for The X-Files and Dante’s Peak. But her first credit as a producer was on 2006’s Eating Out 2: Sloppy Seconds, the second film in the popular gay movie franchise.

It’s her producing work where Disalvatore would have the most lasting impact. Shelter, a 2007 film about surfers who fall in love, was voted by LOGO as the second-greatest gay movie ever made. A Marine Story, a drama centered on the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, won OutFest’s Grand Jury prize in 2010.

“Her films were these beautiful, nuanced movies that without her fingerprint on them would be less than what they are,” says writer and comedian Drew Droege.

Droege notes that Disalvatore could have had a “more mainstream career” if she wanted but devoted her life to telling queer stories. A personal favorite of Droege’s is the “Gay Propaganda” series, which reimagines classic cinema with LGBTQ characters as the leads. A redux of Young Frankenstein stars a gay man in the Madeline Kahn role. The beach scene from From Here to Eternity, where two lovers lock lips as the tide rolls in, is recast with two women.

If Hollywood has historically cast queer people as villains and punchlines, Droege says that her shorts helped rewrite that narrative.

“Something that really connects LGBTQ people is cinema,” says Droege. “We escape into movies and we imagine ourselves in these stories, but we haven’t seen our ourselves in them. Just reshooting these movies and putting queer people in the forefront, it shows so much about how we are valid and we are here.”

But what made Disalvatore a “pillar” of the LGBTQ community in Los Angeles, friends say, is that she was also a passionate advocate and activist.

Jai Rodriguez, an actor and former cast member of Bravo’s Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, says that no matter how sick she was, Disalvatore never stopped being involved. Last year, for instance, she threw a fundraiser on her birthday. But instead of raising money for her cancer treatment, proceeds went to a local animal shelter. Rodriguez claims that she was at nearly every event on LGBTQ youth homelessness or HIV/AIDS in the city.

“That’s the sign of a true warrior,” Rodriguez says, “someone who believes in something so adamantly that they make time when most people think it would be impossible. For a lot of us, we operated under the idea that she was indestructible.”

Friends knew that her cancer, which was first diagnosed in 2012, was getting worse when she sat out this year’s OutFest. Disalvatore, who previously served as festival manager, was a yearly fixture at the LGBTQ film festoften seen arguing outside of the Directors Guild of America building about whatever movie she had just seen. Droege describes her as “fiercely opinionated” and “apologetically grumpy.”

“We disagreed on so many movies,” he says. “But she was so in your face and so interested in what you have to say. That’s the person you want to hang out with at a partynot the sweet, bland person.”

Jane Clark, a longtime friend of Disalvatore’s, claims that Disalvatore was a galvanizing force at these events. She just “had a way of connecting people.” When they ran into actress and writer Guinevere Turner at an OutFest women’s soiree a few years ago, Disalvatore immediately called Turner over and insisted that she be in Clark’s new movie. It was a lesbian horror-comedy called Crazy Bitches.

“Yeah, if it’s called Crazy Bitches, I should be in it,” Turner joked at the time.

Clark immediately bristled. Although she knew Turner as the co-writer of the 1999 adaptation of American Psycho, the two women had only met a couple of times in person. Clark didn’t want to hire her without seeing more of her work. But not only did Clark end up making Turner a lead in her film, they became good friends. They recently wrote the feature Don’t Come Over together, and shot a virtual reality short based on the material due out later this year.

“This is why [Disalvatore] is irreplaceable,” Clark says. “She knew that these two people that she loved and thought had talent could figure out how to do something great together.”

Everyone I talked to for this story thought Disalvatore would “live forever.” It just didn’t seem possible that she would ever die. But after years of fighting, Disalvatore stopped her chemo treatment a few months ago. A group of friends formed a “Cancer Club” to see her through the last months of her life, providing support to her sister, Roanne, who cared for Disalvatore at home. Rather than dying at a hospital, she wanted to be on her couch.

Disalvatore wanted to do things her way, friends say. It’s just how she was.

Even in the last weeks of her life, those who knew her claim that Disalvatore’s personality didn’t changeshe remained funny, irascible, and stubborn as hell. Mary Jo Godges, a filmmaker and longtime friend of Disalvatore, says that she was like Wonder Woman. Although Godges could see the changes in her physically, sometimes it was like she wasn’t sick at all.

“It was hard to see her, this dynamic force, fighting this thing,” Godges says. “But she still kept going.”

The last time that Clark visited her at home, Disalvatore forced her to take a bottle of Castle Rock with her. The two had been saving it for when she got better, but Disalvatore knew that wasn’t going to happen. The bottle had begun gathering dust on the shelf. Clark refused the gift, but Disalvatore, unbending until her final moments, wouldn’t let up. “Take the wine, Jane,” she insisted.

Clark finished that bottle on her couch the night after Disalvatore died. The two used to drink together on the porch, and Clark decided to have one last toast to her memory.

Just as was so often the case, her old friend was right: It was a very good wine.

Note: Friends say that a memorial service will be planned to honor Disalvatore in the “near future.” This story will be updated with details as they arrive.

Half Of Trans Youth Have Considered Suicide, New Australian Study Finds

A sobering report out of Australia shows that half of the country’s trans youth have attempted suicide at some point in their lives.

Conducted by the Telethon Kids Institute, the Trans Pathways study found that three-quarters of transgender people between the ages of 15 and 24 had experienced depression. That rate is nearly 10 times the average for the general population. In addition, nearly four out five of respondents in that age bracket had attempted to harm themselves, often through cutting.

Out of its poll of 859 trans youth, the children’s research center found that this population was 10–13 times more likely than their peers to develop an anxiety disorder.

“The prevalence of anxiety and depression is higher than we expected and really quite concerning,” claims Dr. Ashleigh Lin, a lead researcher on the study, in an interview with HuffPost Australia. “We heard from young people that they’ve had a lot of negative experiences, so very high rates of discrimination, peer rejection, bullying and issues at school and university.”

Lin says that the young people the Telethon Kids Institute spoke with had difficulty getting hired because of their gender identity or dropped out of school due to discrimination.

As the study alleges, the profound bigotry that trans youth experience on a daily basis can have painful consequences. Of respondents who had attempted to take their own lives, 74 percent cited bullying as a factor and 69 percent pointed to discrimination. Other components included body dysphoria (93 percent), rejection by peers (89 percent), and being ostracized by family members (65.8 percent).

“With these negative experiences, it’s no wonder they’re having such a hard time,” Lin adds.

As mental health researchers have noted, these factors should not be seen as causing suicidal ideation or suicide. It can be dangerous and harmful to point the finger at any singular reason. Instead, this data should be viewed as illustrative of the challenges trans youth face.

But if the study’s authors point to the danger of stigma, the report couldn’t have come out at a more relevant time. A nationwide straw poll over marriage equalityset to be conducted via postal ballot later this monthhas intensified scrutiny on Australia’s LGBTQ community, particularly its already vulnerable trans population. The government has asked for the public’s opinion on the issue ahead of a possible legislative push to legalize love.

The right-wing Australian Family Association claimed in an August email to supporters if Australia were to permit same-sex couples to marry, it would entail a radical redefinition of gender in public schools. The message warned that teachers would be required to teach “transgender sex and relationships education.”

Taking a page from anti-LGBTQ campaigners in the U.S., the message warned that marriage equality legislation would allow “those born male who later identified as female” to shower with women.

“It’s not same-sex marriage,” the AFA warns. “It’s transgender marriage.”

A leaflet that began being distributed after the plebiscite was announced extended that argument, calling same-sex marriage a “threat to the safety of women.”

“[T]here would be no separate public toilets, changing rooms or shower rooms for male and female,” reads the flier, which was produced in both English and Chinese. “The transexual ‘counterfeit’ women will be protected under the law, to enter the female toilets including those at schools legally. These places may then become easy sport for rapists to target a woman victim.”

“The number of victims being raped in public female changing rooms and bathrooms in those countries that have passed the Same Sex Marriage Legislation is a stunning fact to all,” the message concludes.

The claim that allowing trans people to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity leads to an increase in sexual assaults has been routinely debunked. Of the more than 200 municipalities with LGBTQ-inclusive public accommodations in the U.S., none of these localities have experienced an outbreak in sexual violence as a result.

And as officials have pointed out, trans people are not on the ballot in September.

Although transgender people have the right to change their name and gender identity in Australia, trans rights remain fraught. Because of the country’s ban on same-sex marriage, a transgender woman who is married to another woman wouldn’t be able to change her birth certificate to match her gender identity. She would have to divorce her wife in order to be legally recognized as female.

The United Nations ruled earlier this year that regulation is a violation of international human rights.

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Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact The Trevor Project or Trans Lifeline for support or any questionsespecially if you feel that you’re currently in crisis.

L’Oreal Drops Black Trans Model Munroe Bergdorf for Talking About White Privilege

Munroe Bergdorf’s run as the first out transgender face of a L’Oreal UK campaign has been cut short.

Though Bergdorf’s gig started only a few days ago, the beauty industry giant dropped the transgender model after a prior Facebook post about white privilege, written in response to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, surfaced.

“Honestly I don’t have energy to talk about the racial violence of white people any more. Yes all white people,” Bergdorf wrote on her private Facebook page. Facebook, Mic reported, subsequently deleted the post after multiple users reported it.

“Because most of y’all don’t even realize or refuse to acknowledge that your existence, privilege and success as a race is built on the backs, blood and death of people of color,” Bergdorf continued. “Your entire existence is drenched in racism. From micro-aggressions to terrorism, you guys built the blueprint for this s***. Come see me when you realize that racism isn’t learned, it’s inherited and consciously or unconsciously passed down through privilege.”

“Once white people begin to admit that their race is the most violent and oppressive force of nature on Earth then we can talk,” she continued.

L’Oreal announced that Bergdorf had been terminated on Twitter.

“L’Oréal champions diversity,” the brand wrote on social media. “Comments by Munroe Bergdorf are at odds with our values and so we have decided to end our partnership with her.”

Several Twitter users called out L’Oreal for saying it “champions diversity” then dumping a black trans woman who speaks out about white privilege.

Bergdorf is not the only trans woman of color to use her platform to speak out against white supremacy in the wake of the Charlottesville protests. In a column for INTO, Raquel Willis connected the dots between white supremacy and transmisogyny, as well.

In a statement on the website of the UK’s Stonewall organization, chief executive Ruth Hunt denounced L’Oreal’s discussion.

“We are extremely disappointed to learn that L’Oreal has ended its partnership with Munroe Bergdorf,” Hunt wrote. “Being a true ally is about listening, even if what you are hearing makes you uncomfortable.”

Hunt added, “Silencing trans women of colour is no way to champion diversity, especially when speaking about their experiences. We will continue to stand by the side of role models like Munroe, working towards a society where everyone, everywhere, is accepted without exception.”

Bergdorf issued a statement to Mic, as well.

“Sit still and smile in a beauty campaign ‘championing diversity,’ but don’t actually speak about the fact that lack of diversity is due to racism,” she said. “Or speak about the origins of racism. It’ll cost you your job.”

“This makeup brand cares about nothing but MONEY,” she added. “I urge you to boycott L’Oréal Paris. I can’t express how disappointed I am in the entire team in dealing with misquotes that were entirely placed out of context.”

Living For: Kate Bones

‘Living For’ is an ongoing series profiling queer and queer-adjacent creators who are making it work. We’re living for them, and you should be too.

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We love British GIF queen Kate Bones, so we asked her to tell us a bit more about herself, her work, and what she’s into. Check it out below and get your life.

NAME: Kate Bones.

AGE: Old enough to know better, young enough not to care.

OCCUPATION: GIF artist/photographer.

INSTAGRAM: @katebones.

INTO: Cake.

ABOUT THE WORK: The GIFs were all shot last year at a variety of queer parties and venues in the U.K. including Sink The Pink, NYC Downlow, The Glory, and Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club. I chose to document the fabulous characters I met and their creativity using a 3D effect to make a fun set of colourful hyperreal portraits.

Saving Graces: Why LGBTQ Spaces Online Matter

The last time I was in a room full of lesbians crying, it was November 8th, 2016.

Late in the evening, sitting on the unforgiving hardwood floor of the tiny Brooklyn apartment I shared with my girlfriend, we watched the election results trickle in. I’m not a drinker, but there were many empty and nearly-empty bottles of wine scattered around the room, and an air of anxiety so thick you could slice through it.

When Florida finally went red, we knew it was over, and we stared at one another in shock. It was a uniquely horrifying, but oddly comforting experience: knowing that the four other people in the room were feeling the exact same thing, fearing the exact same thing, at the same time. Because we were all gay, or trans, or queer, because many of us were from places that probably swayed the election, and because homophobic misogynists had just taken the ultimate control of our country.

But this isn’t an article about Donald Trump. Though, isn’t almost anything written in 2017 basically an article about Donald Trump? It has been nearly a year since that night, and I feel that he haunts everything I write, like a great big orange spectre. But this isn’t about him. This about those four other people in the room. They were friends of mine, all living in New York, and all of whom I’d met online.

I’m twenty-six years old, a transplant to New York from Alabama who has newly-transplanted once again to North Carolina. I have quite a few long-lasting friendships, mostly with other women, and most of whom I met in online spaces.

Many of us flocked to New York from Arizona, New Jersey, or rural Maine, and the closeness of the city meant that we got to see each other, in the flesh. Miles away from my parents, my Thanksgiving and New Year’s celebrations were populated by people with whose faces I’d grown most familiar through selfies on Tumblr and Instagram. Many of them had met their partners, significant others, and wives on those same platforms.

I grew up in a small town in Alabama – the deep South. My town had no LGBTQ outreach programs, no community center, no Pride. There was no mention of LGBTQ-friendly safe sex in my sex ed – Alabama’s official stance is abstinence. The only mention of “gays” was when we watched horrifying videos about AIDS. I didn’t meet another gay person until college, and even then, at my small liberal arts college near Birmingham, they were few and far between. When I did meet others like me, I felt intimidated by them; I wasn’t out, and a lifetime of being surrounded entirely by (assumed) straight people did not condition me to talk about being gay openly.

I came out as a lesbian on Tumblr, in 2013. I was twenty-two years old.

By then, I had a very close-knit group of friends I had made online, all of whom identified as gay, bi, or queer. For most of my life, in fandom and blogging spaces, this was my community. These people – those who read my writing on LiveJournal and Tumblr – knew me like absolutely no one else in my life did. I learned everything I know about LGBTQ culture and history online, not just through blogging, but also through online research, because I had no access to it where I grew up.

For this article, I reached out to some other people I know around the internet – through Twitter and Tumblr – and asked them about their experiences.

These were all people who, like me, grew up in rural areas and largely went without any reflections of their own identities and feelings beyond what they could see and read online and in the media. They are mostly around my age, the youngest being 19. They were, almost exclusively, from the South, with few exceptions.

A few of them remember nearby LGBT programs, like a GSA at their school or university, or a Pride event a few hours outside of town. But mostly, they all grew up closeted, and found friendship and community in online spaces, like I did.

One person I interviewed, when asked about the friendships they had made, said, “We don’t really know each other, but I consider them friends as we have listened and responded to each others’ posts for almost eight years now.” When asked about how they felt about places like Tumblr as safe spaces for closeted people, they responded, “Over time, I learned that it was a safe space with others like me, using the platform as an outlet for feeling safe.”

Another person I interviewed, from Ontario, found that online spaces helped them shape their identity in an even more direct way: “I identify as non-binary, and I know wholeheartedly that I would not identify that way if I hadn’t met other NB people online, because it wasn’t something that was acknowledged or identified in what few LGBTQ spaces I was a part of in real life.”

Another, who grew up in rural Georgia, remained closeted through high school, her only other interaction with a gay teen was when a boy at her school came out in his suicide letter, but was out as a lesbian online.

For all of the people I interviewed, the internet was a convention hall, a community center, a Pride festival: the singular safe space for them to express who they were and how they felt, with others who felt the same.

My experience, not just on Tumblr but in online spaces as a whole, has been much the same. Though those spaces can turn toxic and hostile, wrapped up in pedantic and petty identity politics, they are a saving grace for teens who grew up like I did. For all of their fraught and dangerous territories, they can be wonderful pockets of friendship, compassion, and community.

One of my best friends, the woman I feel closer to than I do most people, is a woman I met online, on Tumblr, in a shared space where we built a friendship on a love of books, music, social justice, and our own overlapping identities as gay women. She lives in Canada and I’ve “met” her twice in person, but we talk nearly every single day. I would be completely untethered without her friendship and support.

And that is what the online community has given me, along with four crying lesbians in my living room and a full table that November day.

That Nashville Statement Is Religious Trash

It’s been a long while since I’ve been a regular churchgoer, but God, if you’re reading this, might I borrow Moses’ old staff so I can go Old Testament (no shade, Jesus) and swat the shit out of a bunch of conservative evangelicals?

This week, The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood unveiled The Nashville Statement. Whose man is this? It’s some right-wing evangelical organization, so, by and large, a bunch of Jesus freaks who Christ wouldn’t fuck with. What do they want? Sadly, it is not a declaration imploring Shania Twain to make good on her desire to collaborate with Nicki Minaj.

Instead, it’s a bunch of overbearing Christians once again bastardizing dogma to demonize anyone that is gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, queer, or intersex.

Per their preamble, the group, which boasts of over 150 Christian leaders across the country, declares: “As Western culture has become increasingly post-Christian, it has embarked upon a massive revision of what it means to be a human being. By and large, the spirit of our age no longer discerns or delights in the beauty of God’s design for human life.”

Note that while organized religion is in decline among millennials, Christianity isn’t exactly headed towards the fate of the iPod or Phaedra Parks’ Bravo career anytime soon. But why let facts get in the way of folks’ precious tropes. Lord knows Christians like these folks like to feign persecution with their over dramatic asses. Bless their hearts.

In any event, this lil’ manifesto is a list of 14 beliefs dictating how things ought to be. In essence, they’re rejecting the actual history of marriage and science behind basic human sexuality because, in their deluded minds, the Lord gave us a vision of love and it was all that was given to us. The rest of the articles basically say stop having butt sex and stop quoting medical professionals who insist that there is indeed a difference between gender and whatever biological sex you were assigned at birth. That, and we’re all immoral.

Thankfully, folks with sense have promptly clapped back.

The mayor of Nashville tweeted her disapproval, arguing that the statement “is poorly named and does not represent the inclusive values of the city & people of Nashville.” Other Christian leaders have condemned the statement as well. Rev. James Martin, a noted Catholic priest, author, and adviser to the Vatican on communications, sent a rebuttal to the Washington Post. As a recovering Catholic, I’m fully aware that the Catholic Church continues to still harbor unfortunate stances on LGBTQ issues, but I will say they have the decency to not be like, “Y’all nasty asses going to hell” in 2017, unlike the missionary sex obsessed fucks who wrote this statement.

Moreover, there are plenty of other Christian organizations who have rejected the Nashville statement by unveiling their own like the Denver Statement, which is far more inclusive and thoughtful than the bigotry masquerading as a celebration of Christian doctrine in the other. Many others have released support of the LGBTQ community including more theologians, more Biblical scholars, and anyone who knows the Bible is full of allegory and idioms of that day that need to be uplifted. The reason why the Nashville statement was able to garner so much attention is not only are they highly mobilized, but many continue to allow these right-wing diet Christians to assume moral superiority.

In a press release, John Piper, co-founder of The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, called the Nashville Statement a “Christian manifesto” on human sexuality. “It speaks with forthright clarity, biblical conviction, gospel compassion, cultural relevance, and practical helpfulness,” Piper claims. “It will prove to be, I believe, enormously helpful for thousands of pastors and leaders hoping to give wise, biblical, and gracious guidance to their people.”

There have long been others out there arguing otherwise based on Biblical text. I’d personally like to throw a copy of Matthew Vines’ God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships at John Piper’s empty head or invite him to converse with ministers I’ve met that are actual theologians. They are not anti-gay or anti-trans and they do not obsess over a nuclear family that is birthed from the 1950s rather than the word of God. These are the Christian voices that need to be magnified, not the throwbacks.

Naturally, there is no equivalent of the Nashville Statement on racism, sexism, or poverty in America. Fighting to end poverty is more Jesus-like than worrying about me wanting to do what-what in somebody’s butt. They are charlatans much like that sweet potato colored president they fancy so much. You know, the serial cheater, unapologetic sexual abuser, defiant demagogue.

Why are people who voted for Minute Maid Mao allowed the space to continue flexing moral superiority? When is someone going to call them out? Seriously, how can I slide into God’s DMs to ask to hold a lightning bolt for a few minutes?

I’m a heathen now, so my concept of hell is iffy. But, if there is one, I hope every person who participated in The Nashville Statement goes directly there. And I hope the circle of hell they end up in is a bathhouse.