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Thursday July 20th 2017

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Volunteer of the Month: Darrell Killingsworth

Darrell Killingsworth

If you were one of the many volunteers for Roc Pride 2017, by now you have heard from our Volunteer of the Month Darrell Killingsworth. Darrell and the Pride Volunteer team have been busy recruiting volunteers and working on job assignments to make your volunteering experience one you can take pride in and have fun all at the same time.

Darrell says: In November of 2010, I moved from North Carolina (the heart of the bible belt) to Rochester. I spent many years working in the food service and health care fields. In 2005, I suffered spinal damage and I’m currently disabled. Aside from my disability. I do my best to try to live every day the fullest.

At first my motive for volunteering was so that I could get in free to concerts and other events. However, after coming out my reasons changed drastically. Coming out in the south, particularly a state like North Carolina, is like suddenly being a ghost at your own funeral. You experience anger and crying but nobody can hear you or see you anymore. One by one your friends all turn their backs to you and walk away. When I volunteered nobody cared about that, they were just glad to see me and happy that I was there to help. I felt accepted.

Not long after I moved to Rochester, I found myself alone and starting over in a new part of the country. I was given tons of offers by friends across the globe to go live with them. I chose Rochester and I am extremely glad that I did. I can’t think of living in a better place.

I first started looking to volunteer at the Gay Alliance. I began working with the youth program and then began doing special events and dances. I’ve helped with SAGE, Pride, just about anything they ask me to do I’ve done my best to try to help. When I am volunteering at the Alliance I am Out and always authentic to myself.

The Alliance is not the only organization that I volunteer for. I teach swimming at the local Y, teach CPR for ARC and sing with Rochester Gay Men’s Chorus as well as volunteering for ImageOut.

When asked why, it’s best explained if I use a young friend named Dustin as an example. He came up here from Georgia a few years ago. Dustin and I shared the same experience of being isolated during the coming out process. Not long after moving to Rochester, Dustin and I became volunteers for the Red Ball; he started singing with the RGMC and helps at the Alliance as well as Image Out. We shared the same experience of how giving of yourself, your time and resources breaks the isolation and you belong to a community. We can live our life Out and Proud. I pointed out to Dustin that by meeting people while volunteering at an event, he would begin to build his network and family of choice. Suddenly he realized he wasn’t alone and he was popular and well liked. By volunteering not only had he helped others, but he helped himself in ways he had never dreamed possible.

The LGBTQ community of Rochester includes some of the most remarkable, amazing and fabulous people on the planet. Considering today’s political climate and a society that at times expresses hate, we need each other more than ever. Stepping up to volunteer and giving of yourself, while being there for each other, is extremely important. It allows us to break down the walls of isolation and to live a life Out and authentic.

 

Rhode Island is 10th state to ban conversion therapy for minors

Gov. Raimondo

According to Andy Towle on Towleroad.com: Rhode Island’s Governor Gina Raimondo has signed a bill into law banning harmful gay conversion therapy for minors, making the state the 10th in the U.S. to do so. Washington D.C. also bans the practice.

Writes HRC:

Rhode Island is now the eleventh jurisdiction — and the fourth state so far this year — to enact these crucially important protections. Connecticut, California, Nevada, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New York, and New Mexico all have laws or regulations protecting youth from this abusive practice. A growing number of municipalities have also enacted similar protections, including cities in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida.

“Conversion therapy,” sometimes referred to as “sexual orientation change efforts” or “reparative therapy,” encompasses a range of dangerous practices that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. These practices are based on the false premise that being LGBTQ is a mental illness that needs to be cured — a theory that has been rejected for decades by every major medical and mental health organization.

ACLU lawsuit demands documents on Trump religious exemptions order

The American Civil Liberties Union on July 20 filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against four federal agencies demanding documents from the Trump administration that provide clarity on how the administration plans to implement its ‘religious freedom’ executive order.

The ACLU initially filed records requests with the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, Justice, and Treasury in March following the leaking of a draft executive order that would have created broad religious exemptions that would enable discrimination against women and LGBT people.

No federal agencies complied with the request and, in May, President Trump signed an executive order that directed the Department of Justice to issue ‘religious liberty’ guidance. Attorney General Jeff Sessions indicated in a speech last week that the department is “finalizing the guidance” and will soon be issued.

“The executive order that President Trump signed was vague and open-ended, but we know that this administration is exploring different ways to license discrimination against women and the LGBT community, among others, in the name of religion,” said Louise Melling, deputy legal director of the ACLU. “Now that the administration has taken its first steps to use religious exemptions to pave the way for discrimination, the American people deserve clarity and transparency on what is coming next.”

The lawsuit today demands any communications regarding, among other items, plans for how the Department of Justice’s ‘religious liberty’ guidance requested in the executive order might be implemented.

Among other possibilities, earlier drafts of the executive order provided broad exemptions to permit any employer to refuse to provide insurance coverage for contraception as otherwise required by law, to authorize federally funded child welfare organizations to make decisions based on religious directives regardless of the best interests of the child, and allow federal employees, contractors, and grantees to discriminate against same-sex couples, transgender people, women seeking reproductive health care, and even those who had had premarital sex.

To read the filing, click here: https://www.aclu.org/legal-document/aclu-v-department-health-and-human-services-et-al-complaint

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