Category Archives: LBGT

This Man Logged Onto Facebook And His Rapist Appeared Under "People You May Know"

“Facebook informs me that we have three mutual friends.” Kevin Kantor spoke to BuzzFeed News about what he did next.

This is Kevin Kantor. He’s a 22-year-old poet and acting student at the University of Northern Colorado.

This is Kevin Kantor. He's a 22-year-old poet and acting student at the University of Northern Colorado.

YouTube

One day last year, Kantor logged into Facebook and, as usual, got suggestions of “people you may know”. Except this time, Facebook suggested he connect with the man he says raped him.

One day last year, Kantor logged into Facebook and, as usual, got suggestions of "people you may know". Except this time, Facebook suggested he connect with the man he says raped him.

Kevin Kantor

Kantor told BuzzFeed News that he was raped two years ago, when he was 20. The police asked him in the hospital afterwards why he didn’t fight back. His brother asked him that too, he said.

Kantor told BuzzFeed News that he was raped two years ago, when he was 20. The police asked him in the hospital afterwards why he didn't fight back. His brother asked him that too, he said.

Kevin Kantor

Eventually, Kantor decided to fight back in the bravest way possible: on stage, in front of thousands.

Eventually, Kantor decided to fight back in the bravest way possible: on stage, in front of thousands.

Kevin Kantor


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Strangers Will Help This Woman Fulfill Her Dying Wish To Marry Her Partner

Got tissues? Good.

Meet Sandra Yates and Lee Bransden.

Meet Sandra Yates and Lee Bransden.

Sandra Yates (L) and Lee Bransden.

Heath Holden / Supplied

Suffering from end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Lee has been told she has just weeks to live.

Her dying wish is to marry Sandra in New Zealand, the closest country to Australia where marriage equality is legalised.

However, money is tight for the two former nurses, who are both on pensions and lost their life savings after a property investment went sour.

Travelling to New Zealand was financially out of the question for the pair, with the money they do have going towards pre-paying for Lee's funeral.

“We sold the camper van we had to pay for her funeral,” Sandra told BuzzFeed News.

People attend a rally in support of same-sex marriages in Sydney, Australia.

Torsten Blackwood / Getty Images

Sandra told BuzzFeed News they were “absolutely exuberant”.

“I couldn't even find the words to say how thrilled we were with the response, how utterly in awe we are,” she said.

“People have reached to the bottom of their pockets and just given so generously to support us in our venture to be married in New Zealand.”

The crowdfunding campaign was started in late April by advocacy group Australian Marriage Equality. It has exceeded its target of $6,500 to pay for Sandra and Lee's flights, accommodation, and ceremony.

Sandra said they would get married in Rotorua, as indigenous culture is significant to the pair.

“We're both of Aboriginal descent and as Lee worked in New Zealand for 25 years she was really connected to Maori culture and it's very special to both of us,” she said.


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The New York Times Launched A Series Of Editorials On Transgender Rights

Andrew Rosenthal

Courtesy of the New York Times

The New York Times on Monday launched a major editorial series about transgender rights, a campaign welcomed by readers and advocates as “transformative” and a “tipping point.”

The feature filled the entire envelope of the New York Times editorial board space — normally reserved for three articles. “This generation should be the one that stopped thinking that being transgender is something to fear or shun,” the paper concluded in Monday's installment.

In an interview with BuzzFeed News, Andrew Rosenthal, the Times's editorial page editor since 2007, explained why he sought to build on the paper's advocacy for LGBT rights. “One of the great things about an editorial page is that you can decide to make a big deal out of something, and we decided to make a big deal out of transgender equality,” he said

“There has been progress in this area,” Rosenthal said in a phone call, “but there is a long way to go. This is not a front-burner issue for people, and we hope to make it one. We want policy makers to read this and think about policies they need to change.”

LGBT advocates and readers welcomed the coverage.

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), said it's clear the paper understands “that, even as so much progress is being made, there is still more disrespect, discrimination and violence that tragically strikes so many trans lives.”

In the coming weeks, Rosenthal said, the series will advocate to overturn the ban on transgender people serving openly in the military, halt a pattern of transgender hate crimes and homicides, ban workplace discrimination, and curing commonplace discrimination in health care.

The first half of 2015 has brought a proliferation of so-called bathroom bills aimed at banning transgender people from public restrooms that correspond with their gender identity. Meanwhile, school districts have debated rules for transgender students and law enforcement has investigated an unprecedented number of homicides of trans women of color.

Fred Sainz, chief spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, said, “At a time when a small few are dedicated to introducing laws that take us backward, the Times has taken a bold step forward that will hopefully pave the way for nondiscrimination protections.”

In tandem with its advocacy, the editorial board launched a social, crowd-sourced component of the series that allows transgender people to post their own stories in essays and photos. The posts thus far include a transgender police officer in Texas and a U.S. foreign service office who transitioned in public while serving overseas.

“We felt there were no better advocates for transgender people than transgender people themselves,” said Ernesto Londoño, a member of the editorial board who headed up the Times series, titled “Transgender Today.”

“A lot of the time, when there is a new revelation of someone who comes out as transgender, the coverage tends to be prurient,” Londoño added, noting that media can dwell on issues such as “'What will they wear?' Things that are somewhat basic.”

“What I think we want to do is go beyond that and explain to people how bureaucracies, how local officials, play a role in moving this in the right direction,” Londoño said.

Londoño and Rosenthal said the timing for this series, long in the making, benefits from swelling momentum for trans rights.

Transgender equality has snowballed as national issue, and the New York Times is by no means the only mainstream news outlet providing coverage — or advocacy — on the issue. ABC News recently aired a two-hour special with former Olympian Bruce Jenner coming out at trans, for example, while BuzzFeed News has detailed everything from federal policy interpretations and court cases to homicides of trans women. The Times has advocated for transgender rights repeatedly in the past.

However, HRC's Sainz said this latest series is “deeply meaningful and will no doubt be transformative. Visibility is almost always followed by understanding, understanding by acceptance, and acceptance over time by enduring legal protections. This series has the great potential to increase visibility, understanding and acceptance.”

A Fox News Contributor On Being Gay, The GOP, And Religious Liberty

Guy Benson

Courtesy of Guy Benson

WASHINGTON — Guy Benson — the baby-faced, fast-talking Fox News contributor who is the political editor at Townhall.com — has something to say.

“Guy here,” he writes in his forthcoming book. “So, I’m gay.”

This is not the main point of the book, however, not at all. Benson’s sexual orientation is given little fanfare — “a footnote in a 316-page book,” as he puts it — in End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun), which Benson co-authored with Mary Katharine Ham, a fellow Fox contributor.

If his book and job titles don’t make things absolutely clear, Benson is a gay conservative. He’s also someone who says he cares much more about “a nuclearized Iran” and “the failures of Obamacare” than most gay issues. And while he said he doesn’t think it especially matters that he’s coming out, Benson was sitting down for an interview on precisely that topic. Rather than wait for the book’s release, he decided to come out publicly before then, sitting down with BuzzFeed News recently to discuss the book, the Republican Party, and his life.

“Gay rights is not something that dominates my attentions — or my passions — and that may seem incongruous, that may seem counterintuitive to a lot of people,” he said, “but the issues that I care about most undergird the reasons why I’m a conservative and have been forever and will be a conservative moving forward.”

The book will be published as the debate over religious liberty protections continues to dominate the presidential conversation around gay issues, something that Benson and Ham are aware of and tackle in the book. (The chapter of the book in which Benson comes out is titled, “Bake Me A Cake, Bigots.”)

Many conservatives have argued there must be a legal process for exemption from laws on the basis of religious belief. For his part, Benson argued that exact space between existence and participation is what has helped accelerate acceptance for marriages. The idea that same-sex couples’ marriages wouldn’t affect straight couples’ marriages was “a very effective argument that won over a lot of people,” he said.

“I’m for civil marriage, I’m for nondiscrimination laws — but I think there should be broad carve-outs for religious organizations, in particular, and narrow carve-outs for closely-held businesses that serve the wedding industry,” he said.

As the religious liberty debate has gained traction, proponents of the religious liberty side of the debate have faced pushback — sometimes against specific individuals or their businesses — leading many conservatives to argue, more broadly, that internet culture is too quick to punish dissenters. Ham and Benson address that issue in their book, as well.

“I think a lot of gay people have felt for generations, obviously, that they have not been treated fairly, and I don’t think that coming to a point of social harmony and then pushing further in this almost vengeful, ‘Let’s get ‘em,’ hounding people out of jobs … [I]t’s not productive, it’s not good for the country,” he said.

The issue that most animated Benson, though, over the course of the 45-minute interview was the accusation sometimes made that gay Republicans must be self-hating people.

“I think that’s extraordinarily closed-minded and betrays a lack of imagination, at the very least,” he said.

Then, he let out an extended soliloquy in defense of what is likely to be seen as a part of his public persona now.

“A free-thinking, free citizen of a free country is not obliged to be confined to a bedazzled ideological straitjacket because that’s how they ‘ought’ to think and ‘ought’ to vote and ‘ought’ to rank their priorities,” he said. “It’s not true, it shouldn’t be true, and I think part of liberty and tolerance and coexistence is understanding that, ‘Hey, I might have something in common with this person over here, and they have every right under the sun to disagree with me on this whole panoply of public policy questions over here.’ And if their views on those things lead them to another conclusion about how they exercise their right to vote, to jump to the conclusion that that is borne of some secret, deep-seated, self-loathing is just lazy and boring.

“And false.”

Benson knows there will be some conservatives, as well, who question him now. To them, he said he would just direct them to all that he’s written and said since he was in college at Northwestern University. “I do my best to shrug it off and just go on living my life.”

And, despite the disagreements Benson likely will have with some gay liberals, he acknowledges the importance of the progress that has been made on gay rights.

“I do not lose sight of how historically fortunate I am to be living in this country in this era, given who I am,” he said. As for his own path, he explained, “This is the final stage for me, personally, on this journey, where I have been incredibly fortunate to have been able to undertake each step of this process completely on my own terms.”

And now, he felt that it was time to let people know that his voice — already a part of the political discussion — was that of a gay man.

“Because we’re writing about it in the book, I did not want to cede control of that information to someone else,” he explained. He wanted to talk about this himself, rather than someone else, because he didn’t want it “to seem as though I was hiding or being untruthful or ashamed — and that hasn’t been my mentality at all. So, for a number of reasons, it seemed like the time had arrived and this is how we did it.”

It’s also, he acknowledges, a key time for his party on LGBT issues. Most notably, the Supreme Court will soon rule on a set of marriage and marriage-recognition cases, and is expected to rule bans on those marriages unconstitutional. “I think the party is in a state of flux, with deep disagreements — rooted in many cases, but not all, generationally — and that is a political dilemma at the moment,” he said.

Benson also acknowledged the base of the party largely remains opposed to issues like marriage equality, which he and Ham both support. And he noted the political reasons for why that opposition remains the default in the Republican Party. “You need that base, you need your core voters to turn out to win elections,” he said — adding that “the vast majority” of those who oppose marriage rights for same-sex couples “are not bigots.”

On the other end, he said, “You also, if you’re the party, have to look to the future and worry about this type of issue being one of those threshold issues for a lot of young people, where it is a barrier to entry to the party” — people who would otherwise consider Republican candidates but won’t “so long as their party is discriminating against my brother, who’s gay, or my dear friend who is gay.”

Calling that “a real obstacle,” Benson said, “I don’t think there’s a quick fix to that.” He added that he’s been watching the responses to the “would you attend a same-sex wedding” question, calling the affirmative answers from some candidates “a softening, without conceding the policy question.”

Benson distanced himself, slightly, from those obstacles — but left the door open for more involvement going forward.

“Look, I’m as fascinated as anyone to see how it plays out. I don’t feel like I’m going to become particularly activist on any of this stuff,” he said. “From time to time —” he stopped. “We’ll see.”

Chief Justice’s Question Highlights Sex-Discrimination Argument Against Marriage Bans

The claim could be used by Chief Justice John Roberts to strike down bans on same-sex couples’ marriages. The argument isn’t new, though, having appeared throughout the past decades of marriage fights — since the 1970s.

At Tuesday’s marriage arguments, Chief Justice John Roberts made a brief comment that launched speculation he could join Justice Anthony Kennedy and the more liberal justices in voting against bans on same-sex couples’ marriages.

At Tuesday's marriage arguments, Chief Justice John Roberts made a brief comment that launched speculation he could join Justice Anthony Kennedy and the more liberal justices in voting against bans on same-sex couples' marriages.

Roberts notably disagreed with the court's 2013 ruling that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act.

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / Getty Images

What did Roberts say? He asked the attorney for Michigan about sex discrimination.

What did Roberts say? He asked the attorney for Michigan about sex discrimination.

“That theory had gotten only slight attention in scores of lawsuits challenging bans on same-sex marriage,” Liptak wrote, adding that it is “unlikely to serve as the central rationale” for a Supreme Court opinion striking down the marriage bans.

Whelan goes on to call the argument “badly confused and incompatible with Roberts' vaunted commitment to judicial restraint.”


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The Ornithology Of The American Lesbian

The definitive guide to spotting lesbians in the wild.

Illustration by Lucy Bellwood for BuzzFeed

Who counts as a Baby Gay? What's the difference between a Soft Butch and a Hard Femme? Do we actually know any lumberjills?

Learning the different and completely arbitrary criteria for all these labels started to feel a little like we were back in biology class. So we decided to put together this very scientific* guide to the many different varieties of lesbian that you may encounter. (Although we're still confused about which ones we are, tbh.)

*Not At All Scientific

Illustration by Lucy Bellwood for BuzzFeed

Fledglings in the community, these types are not easy to classify as they have yet to mature into their adult markings. Can be found on most college campuses or standing nervously at the entrance to a gay bar (which they are likely too young to enter).


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This Guy Might Be The First Trans Man On The Cover Of Men’s Health Magazine

Thrust into the spotlight when a photo of him went viral, Aydian Dowling is poised to make history.

If you don’t know the name Aydian Dowling, you may remember this photo featuring a trans YouTuber that nearly broke the internet earlier this year:

If you don't know the name Aydian Dowling, you may remember this photo featuring a trans YouTuber that nearly broke the internet earlier this year:

Dowling re-created this iconic Adam Levine image from Cosmo U.K. for the cover of FTM magazine, and it quickly spread all over — because, I mean look!

Jason Robert Ballard / Via ftmmagazine.com

Instagram: @alionsfear

Instagram: @alionsfear


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What Now For Gay Plaintiffs In Marriage Cases? Waiting.

Val Tanco and Sophy Jesty

Chris Geidner / BuzzFeed

WASHINGTON — Tuesday afternoon, after their lawyers made arguments for marriage equality and marriage recognition, the same-sex couples who are the plaintiffs in the big Supreme Court cases streamed out of the building's grand front doors and marched down the steps to a cacophony coming from loudspeakers at dueling rallies on the sidewalk.

As the plaintiffs were greeted like celebrities outside the court — from shouting fans to eager reporters — their attention was already turning to the coming wait. The justices are not expected to hand down a decision in the cases until late June.

“It's going to be a long two months,” Sophy Jesty told BuzzFeed News.

Jesty and Val Tanco, who were married in New York in 2011, are plaintiffs in a case seeking marriage recognition Tennessee. The justices heard their case Tuesday along with cases from couples Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio.

Unlike a case before Supreme Court in 2013 that concerned a ban on same-sex couples' marriages in California — in which justices punted on the larger constitutional question — Jesty said that this time, “At least we know they will issue a ruling.”

The plaza and sidewalk around the couple was a political circus for competing ideas about what that ruling should be. Religious groups made the most vehement case against the rights of same-sex couples to marry. One sign warned that the “Torah forbids same-sex marriage,” while others — from the infamous Phelps family — read, “Fags are beasts.”

Speeches being given at a stage adjacent to a news conference largely drowned out plaintiffs and lawyers trying to discuss their cases.

Mary Bonauto speaks outside the Supreme Court on April 28, 2015.

Dominic Holden / BuzzFeed

Mary Bonauto, who made the argument for marriage equality, said that if the justices reject her arguments, they would be “constitutionalizing second-class status for gays and lesbians … it will invite discrimination.”

Kentucky plaintiffs Gregory Bourke and Michael De Leon, who are also seeking marriage recognition, said justices had asked particularly tough questions of John Bursch, the former solicotor general of Michigan, who defended state marriage bans. Bursch argued, in part, that barring same-sex couples from marrying is necessary to promote traditional marriages between opposite-sex couples who can procreate.

“How do you defend an argument like that?” asked Bourke.

Michael De Leon and Gregory Bourke

Dominic Holden / BuzzFeed

But Bourke did compliment Bursch, despite being his legal adversary, on also wearing a bow tie. “We wanted to show some solidarity,” he joked before being drowned out by a chant from nearby stage and crowd.

“Homo sex is wicked!”

“Homo sex is wicked!”

“Homo sex is wicked!”