Tag: COVID19

The Amazon Trail: COVID-19 Pioneer – Lesbian.com

The Amazon Trail: COVID-19 Pioneer – Lesbian.com

Polio PinBY LEE LYNCH
Special to Lesbian.com

Now that President Biden and Vice President Harris are in office, I’ve been able to have my first Covid 19 vaccine shot. It was no big deal. I went to our county fairgrounds expecting to be injected through my car window, the way I was tested. I thank my lucky stars the test was negative. I’m grateful to the medical profession that persisted in making tests and vaccines available despite the disinformation and profiteering of our former leaders.

Turned out, the vaccines were administered in the same exhibit building that’s used for our winter farmers’ market, a very familiar and reassuring space. The six-foot tables that usually serve to display crafts or local mushrooms and goat cheeses, were now place markers.

Two representatives of our Sheriff’s Mounted Posse, minus their mounts, stood at the door, masked and chatting with new arrivals. We weren’t exactly an unruly crowd—age seventy-five at the youngest—so there was little for them to do. Once inside, our temperatures were taken, we were sent along to show ID and turn in required paperwork. Some internet averse or disabled people filled out that paperwork on site, assisted by caretakers and community helpers.

One half hour was allotted for each group to be vaccinated. Firefighters led the way to makeshift corrals, maybe twelve foot by twelve foot, and to inadequately distanced folding chairs. No matter, it’s in the nature of groups to group, and people knew each other so there was never a chance some would voluntarily social distance, despite the fact that they were there to prevent dying in a pandemic.

The firefighters then deposited us, one at each end of the tables. I spotted non-gay neighbors in front of me and we cheerfully visited—at a distance. They’ve since invited me to ride with them for our second shots. That could have been fun and memorable, I thought later, especially if we gave one another the virus while enclosed in a car.

Which brought me back to the first inoculation I remember. I was in elementary school when American schoolchildren became guinea pigs for Dr. Salk’s vaccine. We waited on line outside the Flushing, Queens P.S. 20 gymnasium, in enforced quiet, dozens of solemn, worried kids. Personally, I was terrified of being shut inside an iron lung and welcomed the chance to avoid that fate.

The Covid 19 vaccines have emergency authorization; the polio shots were experimental. Some children received the actual inoculation, others a placebo. We filed into the gym and stopped at little stations staffed by who-knew-who. I asked this time, and confirmed that RNs were giving the Covid injections.

As Polio Pioneers, we received pins and certificates (which many of us still have, including me). Mothers of pupils volunteered to comfort us. I lucked out with a mom who put her arms around me and held me close during my ordeal. If I hadn’t already been a dyke, I would have become one from that experience alone—what pain?

The more recent injection was painless. For about two days afterward I couldn’t lift that arm without great discomfort, but as vulnerable elders, we accepted the necessity of inoculation with stoicism. There was a nurse for each row of recipients so those in the back were able to watch for horrendous reactions from the procedure. There were none.

The last corral was the observation room where we waited thirty minutes, in case we needed an epi pen or ambulance. The firefighters roamed among us, smiling and joking with people they knew, checking on us all. Eventually, we crammed together on line to schedule appointments for our second shots.

As a seasoned Polio Pioneer, sixty-odd years later, it strikes me as funny that I felt a little proud, just as I had in grade school, to be part of this mass health effort. There’s a bond now, between my neighbors and myself, that we went through the unknown together, that we believed in the science and the medicine and did our patriotic duty to keep America safe.

Before my observation period ended, I took a seat at one end of a long bench and exchanged greetings with a courageous man perhaps twenty-five years my senior. As I watched the clock, I considered myself lucky, way back when, to have received the real polio vaccine rather than the placebo. In the present, I know I’m lucky to have reached the current vaccine eligibility cutoff age. And lucky to have outlived the willful mismanagement of the Covid 19 pandemic.

Copyright Lee Lynch 2021 / February 2021

Historic downtown Los Angles bar The New Jalisco on the brink of closure due to COVID-19 / Queerty

Historic downtown Los Angles bar The New Jalisco on the

The New Jalisco. Via Rosa Hernandez

COVID-19 continues to rear its ugly head on safe spaces for the queer community. The historic downtown Los Angeles venue The New Jalisco has become the latest business to plead with the general public for help.

The New Jalisco opened in the 1990s to cater to LA’s growing LGBTQ Latino crowd. Now, more than 20 years later, the bar faces permanent closure due to mounting debts amid the ongoing pandemic. To counter the financial strain, owner Rosa Hernandez launched a GoFundMe page on December 20 in hopes to keeping the business open.

“Like countless small businesses, The New Jalisco Bar is struggling to stay alive during this ongoing pandemic,” Hernandez wrote on the GoFundMe page. “Our doors have been closed since March 2020 and we have not been able to obtain financial relief to support our business expenses or rent commitments. Unfortunately, we now owe our landlord 10 months of rent with interest. This debt puts us at risk of closing down permanently.”

Related: Success! Owners of LA’s Akbar raise $150,000 in under 24 hours

“We are reaching out to our clients, supporters, and friends to please consider donating to our cause,” she concludes. “Your contributions will help save a community space that has served as a safe haven for generations of Angelenos in our city.”

The New Jalisco has set a goal of raising $80,000 in hopes of staying afloat. At the time of this writing, the fundraiser has generated just over $18,000. Patrons can learn more or donate by visiting the bar’s GoFundMe site.

Queer businesses in Los Angeles have endured massive hardship due to COVID-19. In West Hollywood, the popular and historic venues Rage, Flaming Saddles, Gym Bar, Cuties and Gold Coast have all shut down permanently due to mounting bills and ongoing disputes with landlords. In Silverlake, the popular queer hipster bar Akbar also teetered on the brink of closure before a similar crowdfunding campaign raised $200,000 to address the bar’s debts.

Harm Reduction in Hard Times: What Safety & Care Around Drug Use Can Teach Us During COVID-19

Harm Reduction in Hard Times: What Safety & Care Around

In the waning months of 2019, I sat in a friend’s home in East Oakland, looking down at defunct Oakland Coliseum, and the house lights flickering on in the twilight. I was there, ostensibly, to celebrate a friend’s birthday party. But as the evening slid into night, and gentle inebriation from La Croix wine spritzers began to take hold, small bags began to be pulled from pockets, their chalky contents poured onto trays, tested for fentanyl, then cut into lines and inhaled. We were each handed an inch and a half long trimmed segment of a plastic straw, to prevent cross contamination. This, in the home of a sex worker, with two healthcare professionals on either side of me, felt safe. It felt safe to do drugs that had been hammered into my social consciousness as always dangerous, as always a step away from death. As writer and activist Dean Spade outline in their 2020 piece “Solidarity Not Charity” for Social Text, “Mutual aid is a form of political participation in which people take responsibility for caring for one another and changing political conditions, not just through symbolic acts or putting pressure on their representatives in government but by actually building new social relations that are more survivable.” Mutual Aid is not just about making a one-time donation, but about building a politics that is concerned with the safety and wellbeing of others, naming “the failures of the current system” and showing an alternative. And because of the safety protocols that we observed, I glimpsed what ensuring that safety might look like.

In the early months of the pandemic’s grip on the United States, I saw a graphic float across a friend’s Instagram story. Set in Barbara Kruger-esque text, the words “Guys Are Hooking Up During The Pandemic. Are You?” sprawl across a digital graffiti background. I tapped through to find the account Fagdemic, their bio a concise “Hot Work in Hard Times: fag harm reduction for coronaworld.” Seeing this account felt like being pulled through my phone screen; I wanted to reach out, wanted to peel off the layers of shame I felt for wanting to touch a stranger, to do drugs in a room with strangers, to be around strangers in a time of so much wanton isolation. For those unfamiliar, harm reduction, as defined by the International Harm Reduction Association, is a strategy of both policy and social programs “which attempt primarily to reduce the adverse health, social and economic consequences of mood altering substances” for individual drug users as well as their broader communities, without requiring a decrease in drug use. Harm reduction’s adoption as a viable set of socioeconomic and healthcare practices have been hotly contested because of decades’ long Drug War propaganda – the Mayor of Charleston, West Virginia, used his public platform to rally support for shutting down a needle exchange clinic just two years after it had opened.

When a gay men’s sexual health organization in Ontario decided to deal more coherently with substance use in the queer community, they called on two self-described “notorious drug using fags” to produce a video for them. But many of the most helpful, albeit transgressive parts of the video, such as speaking to an individual’s drug dealer about sanitizing practices, were edited or cut out in favor of a more conservative, abstinence forward approach on drug use. Frustrated with having to push a political message they didn’t feel aligned with, the two founded Fagdemic, and set out to produce information, messaging, and safer use tips for their broader community. For them, “starting with the language our community is already using,” around drugs, paraphernalia, and safety practices goes a long way to destigmatize the advice being given; the harm reduction tools are coming from inside the community, instead of a patronizing non-profit or ideologically-driven organization.

This strategy, of intercommunal language use to reach audiences not otherwise accessible, is notable in the work of New York City-based DISH (Do It Safe Heaux) which provided supplies for safer usage primarily to black and brown drug-using trans women. But this practice, of meeting people exactly where they are at, begins decades ago, with foundational work by John Paul Hammond, a queer Black man. Growing up in a North Philadelphia family of Quaker activists, Hammond became involved with ACT UP, and in 1992 helped to establish Prevention Point, a needle exchange clinic that has helped to prevent an estimated 11,000 new HIV infections since its founding. Dr. Lauretta Grau, associate research scientist at the Yale School of Public Health, met Hammond in 1997 and said that, while his passion was activism, he was also an exemplary researcher. “He was on a multi-site project we were doing of active injectors as part of our research field team, and he was a very wonderful, careful, systematic researcher,” he said. “He did a lot of epidemiological research for us and was a wonderful, wonderful colleague. He was reliable, he was fastidious and he was organized. He was an extremely bright man.” Because of Hammonds’ experiences as both a drug user and as a researcher, advocate, and harm reduction activist, he was able to reach community members and individuals who would not otherwise be receptive to answering a university researcher’s questions.

Tim McCaskell, one of the most notable queer activists in Toronto’s history, also contributed deeply to work around harm reduction, helping to mentor the two men who started Fagdemic and so many others in the Toronto queer activism scene. His work spanned decades, beginning with AIDS ACTION NOW!, as well as serving as a spokesperson for Queers Against Israeli Apartheid. But in January 25th, 2019, McCaskell penned an op-ed for Now Toronto about the dangers of crystal methamphetamine use in the gay community. The byline, “I lived through the worst years of the AIDS epidemic… once again everybody’s pretending nothing is going on with the explosion of queer people experimenting with crystal meth during sex” and the contents of the article shocked so many who had trusted McCaskell to be a voice championing harm reduction. “That was especially kind of shocking coming from somebody we’ve learned so much from,” said Jonathan of the collective Fagdemic. For the Toronto-based harm reduction duo, instead of preaching the same old moralizing narratives, the work should involve “building solutions in our own healthcare modality.” The building of this modality of harm reduction should not just conclude with a politics of survival, of distributing naloxone or fentanyl test strips and calling it a day. For Fagdemic, and those interested in an abolitionist vision of harm reduction, building a politics which acknowledges how layers of marginalization impact your health outcomes, and still goes “beyond just surviving to actually enjoying our lives and accounting for those health disparities,” is the goal.

Over the summer of 2020 and into the Fall, protest camps, space collectivization efforts, free community fridges, and the distribution of harm reduction resources, PPE, and masks to those on the West Coast affected by wildfires, became more prominent than ever before. New York’s Abolition Park, an effort initially started as ‘Occupy City Hall’ became a site of communal organizing, education, and care. In Dean Spade’s writing about mutual aid projects, because they create spaces “where people come together based on some shared need or concern,” and end up encountering and working closely with people whose lives and experiences differ from theirs, they “cultivate solidarity.” Cassie, one of the organizers who was present at Abolition Park, spoke about acting not from a mindset of scarcity, or of lacking resources, but of abundance, in which “we can give everything to each other.” For her, any mutual aid project has to foreground those without resources, those “who are cut off from accessing means of life.” Nikki, a young unhoused transgender woman who began staying at Abolition Park, remarked that the life-affirming services AP offered not only allowed her a respite from the harassment she experienced on the street, but a chance to feel full and supported. She felt both politically aligned and socially cared for at AP, telling Gwynne Hogan of Gothamist “at the end of the day, [the] community takes care of the people”. Nikki’s participation in the aforementioned article seemingly led to her arrest by plainclothes NYPD officers, putting the demands of AP’s communal care and abolitionist framework even more starkly in contrast with systems of carceral justice and policing.

Abolition Park and the organizers present there worked tirelessly to create medic tents, a power charging station for people to charge their phones, and a People’s Bodega that handed out PPE, cleaning supplies, “just everything else that folks needed.” AP also hosted an eviction defense workshop with longtime tenants’ rights organizers – lessons which have become crucial, as major rent relief stalls or is denied to the majority of those who apply for it. Organizers at Abolition Park established a reading group centered around M.E. O’Brien’s Junky Communism essay that was turned into a zine and distributed. The essay, and the politics of harm reduction as a strategy of leftist organizing contextualizes, traces how syringe exchanges were a technique developed by activists in the 1980s that, despite often being illegal and organizers risking arrest, helped to combat some of the most severe devastation of the AIDS epidemic. O’Brien’s experience working at a syringe exchange, helped them to see “how harm reduction had helped politicize their experiences, transforming individual misery into a collective practice of solidarity and a basis for social critique.” For organizations like the Young Lords and the Black Panther Party, the political question of how to support, educate, and organize members of the working class who used drugs and could not reliably hold down a job was of utmost importance. While many leftists and organizers interested in respectability saw “junkies unable to maintain stable employment” as having no place in revolutionary organizing, Cassie speaks to the reality of being a queer person with a holistic view of radical work. “I know how to use Narcan out of, like, absolute necessity… This is like waking up and breathing.” She continues, saying “We live in a community that is structured around a lot of addiction. We need to have that compassion and love for ourselves and for our friends and for each other.”

In the last few years, the growing rates of drug overdose have lowered American life expectancy for the first time since the peak of the AIDS crisis. As reported by the American Medical Association, millions of Americans with difficult relationships to substance use have been struggling beyond the difficulties produced by the pandemic, because it has so “complicated access to basic resources” like medical care, resulting in an increase in drug overdose related deaths. Even in San Francisco, an epicenter of the AIDS crisis and a city which has harm reduction institutions like St.James Infirmary and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, overdose deaths are outpacing deaths from COVID-19. O’Brien writes how, “As the crisis of capitalism and working-class life deepens, insurgent movements will need to grapple with drug addiction.” By refusing the implied disposability of drug users, and the isolation or ostracization of those assumed dangerous because of drug use, we must “move towards a communism not based on the dignity of work, but on the unconditional value of our lives.” Cassie notes that, for those drug-using individuals who were present at Abolition Park, after receiving the sorts of care made freely available, they began doing fewer substances because of the level of communal support they were surrounded by and had access to. The act of giving someone else the tools and material resources necessary to change their life has been the driving mission behind the Portland Sex Worker Resource Project, which aimed to “provide low barrier financial support to Sex Workers affected by COVID.” Prioritizing Black, Indigenous, and Trans sex workers, as well as those who live at the intersections of those identities, requires identifying that margnialized sex workers “face disproportionate violence within the industry… Black SWERS are more likely to be arrested, more likely to be assaulted by the police and/or clients, and more likely to be murdered by the police and/or clients.”

For Kat and Saiya, the organizers of PSWRP, it’s been difficult “telling people “no” when you truly believe they deserve everything they’re asking for.” But while the project’s work has functioned on a limited budget and has not been able to fulfill every request they’ve received, they have been able to distribute $5,000 in microgrants, assisting 40 people with $200 in material support. Everyone who applied for a microgrant received funds, and in establishing a low barrier application system, were able to help Sex Workers who previously may have been turned away by state agencies or non-profits with more complex bureaucratic processes. Mutual aid work in the state of Oregon may also be buoyed by the recent passage of Measure 110 which means that “state’s residents will no longer face arrests or prison sentences for carrying small amounts of drugs like cocaine, heroin, oxycontin and methamphetamine.”

This encouraging step towards decriminalization signifies one step away from a carceral system that punishes drug users or sex workers with jail time, but fails to include the necessary steps of expunging records, freeing those convicted of drug offenses, and allocating revenue from sales taxes towards social programs for those previously convicted. As Emily D. Warfield, an MSW researcher said concerning the overlap of the two communities, “Any drug policy win is also a big win for sex workers, not just because of the overlap in drug users and sex workers but because it indicates the public is willing to rethink criminal punishment as a solution to economic and social problems.” This movement away from rampant carcerality is encouraging, although the trap of feigning reform in the guise of forced rehabilitation still remains. For Saiya, the Portland Sex Worker Resource Project has always centered the needs of the community, and establishing trust in organizers takes time – but they are intent to be “an ember, not a flame.”

A few years ago, while showing an ex around my hometown, we slid into the single occupancy bathroom of a crummy gay dive bar, the same crummy gay dive bar I had been going to since I turned 21. She pulled out a small container of cocaine, scooped out some with her long acrylic nails, snorted, and then turned on her heel to walk out of the bathroom, leaving me with the bag in one hand. A year or so afterwards, I was in the bathroom of a crummy Oakland dive bar that had come to feel like a second home, warmed by the presence of the first deep trans friendship I had made in the Bay Area. They pulled out a bag of cocaine, we each did some, and walked arm in arm to a house party just a few blocks away. But once there, they left me to ride out the high alone, my face numb, my fingers cold. And when I told them a short while later, still in the throes of a dull throbbing nose, that I needed to go home, they let me walk, by myself, into the predawn darkness. For O’Brien, “revolutionary politics must embrace the many broken and miserable places inside ourselves.” It is precisely from these sites of anguish, hurt, and pain “that our fiercest revolutionary potential emerges.” There are moments in which drug use has felt wrapped in the shame and stigma that isolate people in those moments of most crucial need. And there are moments in which people are met where they are at, with communal care and abundance offered to those who most desperately need it, enabling people to do so much more than just survive.

Filming for Ryan Murphy’s newest show halted over Covid-19 / Queerty

Filming for Ryan Murphy’s newest show halted over Covid-19 /

Tom Cruise confirmed an obvious fact this week: COVID is no joke on film sets, or any workplace that requires people to be in close physical proximity.

Now just a month after shooting started, production for the upcoming Ryan Murphy series Impeachment: American Crime Story has been halted after members of the cast and crew tested positive for the virus.

Though names were not disclosed, or an exact number, TMZ reports it’s “multiple” people. No date has been scheduled to resume filming.

Last month, series lead Sarah Paulson showed off the first look at her character transformation in the third installment of the ACS anthology.

As with the first two seasons of the show, American Crime Story will retell a lurid scandal from American history. This new season recalls the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky scandal from the late 1990s. Paulson plays Linda Tripp, a friend and coworker of Monica Lewinsky who leaked word to the press that Lewinsky was engaged in an affair with then-President Clinton.

The series uses Jeffrey Toobin’s book A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President as its basis. Toobin suffered his own sex scandal this fall when he was seen pleasuring himself during a Zoom chat between New Yorker magazine staff and WNYC radio.

Along with Paulson, Impeachment will feature queer actress Beanie Feldstein as Monica Lewinsky, Clive Owen as Bill Clinton, Annaleigh Ashford as Paula Jones, Anthony Green as Al Gore and Betty Gilpin as Ann Coulter.

We wish everyone a safe and speedy recovery.

Extra! Extra!: What Do We Actually Know About a COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout?

Extra! Extra!: What Do We Actually Know About a COVID-19

This week’s Extra! Extra! returns with some LGBTQ+ news from both sides of the Atlantic; an update on the COVID-19 pandemic, the havoc it’s wreaking in so many areas of life and the vaccine arms race; and rapidly deteriorating situations the world over.

LGBTQ+ News

A New Day for Queer People in the South

Natalie: So, as a queer person living in the South, I want to be optimistic about its future…I want to believe that the end of the HB2 era represents an opportunity for our communities to grow…but the thing about this particular date that you should know…and the thing that makes me more cynical than the activists in this story: it could’ve happened 3.5 years ago.

As the article notes: HB142 was an attempt to “repeal” the bathroom bill that’d brought withering political and economic blowback to the state. It passed with a provision that prohibited local governments from passing their own nondiscrimination ordinances for a period of four years. What the article doesn’t mention is that before that repeal, there had been another compromise put forward: this one with just a six month sunset period. How or why Republicans and Democrats in North Carolina felt justified in passing a four year “cooling off period,” after rejecting a six month one, is anyone’s guess but it’s enough to make a person feel a lot more cynical about the South’s LGBT future.

Laverne Cox recounts transphobic attack in L.A.: ‘Never fails to be shocking’

Rachel: This is so heartbreaking and scary to read, and sobering to process during the same week of Elliot Page’s coming out. Even as trans identity becomes more visible and legible in the national conversation, we have to remain aware of the fact that visibility on its own isn’t a solution; and that in fact visibility can compound danger and harm, especially for Black folks.

UK court rules against trans clinic over treatment for children

Rachel: In a heartbreaking decision that marks the latest development in an extremely concerning trend of anti-trans ideology both culturally and in policy, the U.K. has issued a ruling that requires youth to get a court order if they wish to access puberty blockers, a medically appropriate option trans kids had previously been able to access to prevent unwanted secondary sex changes related to puberty before starting medical transition. The reasons given for this ruling — that puberty blockers are “experimental” with “long-term consequences” that kids can’t consent to — are inaccurate and fearmongering, inconsistent with well-documented science: that the number one factor in trans kids’ health and wellness in the longterm is affirmation and support for their identity, including socially and medically. The decision will be appealed, meaning this issue could land in the Supreme Court, a high-stakes possibility in the midst of a deeply transantagonistic milieu in the U.K.

COVID-19 Update

This Time, My COVID Patients Know How They’re Going to Die

Himani: An utterly heart-breaking read from a doctor in Italy about the second wave. The despair, bitterness and grief is just palpable: “In all this effort and despair, if there is one thing that pisses me off, it is the deniers. Until a few days ago, I was smiling at their bullshit. … Today I no longer laugh. A dull anger rises. Come on, denier, come and see how you die from COVID. Take reporters into hospitals to see patients who can’t breathe, the dead, or our dripping sweat.”

New Report Offers Clearest Picture Yet Of Pandemic Impact On Student Learning

Himani: So there are a few issues with this. First, it’s entirely premised on the belief that testing is actually an accurate measure of student learning which any teacher will tell you is simply not true. But, it’s the quantifiable metric we have so we use it because numbers make us feel safe.

Second and more troublingly, this article leads with comparisons saying that there was a modest drop in math learning and then follows up with a caveat that the most vulnerable students are actually missing from the data entirely. About half way down we learn that actually a quarter of students are missing from the data. A quarter! And who exactly were those missing students? As the NPR article reports: “these children are ‘more likely to be black and brown, more likely to be from high-poverty schools and more likely to have lower performance in the first place.’”

With such glaring holes in the data, how was the previous comparison worthwhile in the least? They’re basically comparing as much of the entire school population you would ever get to students coming from more resourced families to make the claim that “the pandemic-driven jump to online learning has had little impact on children’s reading growth and has only somewhat slowed gains in math.” That statement is only true for the students who were in the data, i.e. students who are in under-resourced schools, a greater proportion of whom are Black and brown.

So what is the real story here? What this article should’ve said is this: The latest testing data confirms what many have been suspecting all along. The pandemic appears to have the greatest impact on students from high poverty schools who are more likely to be Black and brown because many of them did not even take assessment tests in fall 2020 when their peers did. We don’t know how these students are faring academically or what kind of education they have or have not received since March. Among the students we do have data on (again, who are more likely to be white and from better resourced schools), reading growth has remained the same as previous years and math has dipped modestly.

[As a side note, to actually get at what I’m saying in the last sentence requires another analysis that isn’t reported on by the NPR article, and I don’t know if the testing nonprofit that did this analysis looked at that but just didn’t talk about it. In any case, now I’m getting way too far into the weeds.]

Framing is everything, y’all. How you say this has policy implications.

Natalie: The caveat of this study — “Many of the nation’s most vulnerable students are missing from the data” — is I think the most important part of this article examining NWEA’s research. It’s hard to square the rosy data with other reports I’ve seen during the pandemic like about 25% of secondary students in one of North Carolina’s largest school districts having at least one F. In Maryland’s largest school district, the situation is even worse. The same goes for Texas and California.

The kids are not alright and the most unfortunate thing? I don’t think that anyone has a good plan for how to make the situation better.

Mitch McConnell’s Relief Offer Is Actually Worse Than Doing Nothing

Himani: I feel like every article I read where Mitch McConnell’s name shows up in the headline (or where he’s mentioned in passing in the text) just makes me hate him more and more and more. The upcoming Georgia Senate races are our last hope of wresting power from the claws of this truly horrible human being. Phone bank, text bank, knock on doors, donate — do whatever you can because this matters so, so much for everything we care about.

Natalie: A few weeks ago, in this very column, we highlighted a story about a lawsuit against Tyson Foods for their capricious and malicious response to COVID-19 at their meat packing facilities. That article reported that managers were cavalierly betting on which of their employees would get COVID. There’s new reporting out that Tyson managers lied to interpreters about COVID-19 risks.

I mention all this to say: this is who Mitch McConnell is protecting. This is the hold up on the second stimulus that American families need so desperately to be able to eat and keep a roof over their heads. McConnell wants immunity for companies like Tyson Foods (or Publix) that forced their employees to work in unsafe conditions. He’s protecting the people who bet on their employees.

Like Himani said, those Georgia Senate races are crucial if we want to put an end to McConnell’s tyranny.

Justin Trudeau Promised a Feminist Economic Recovery. So Where’s the Plan?

Natalie: I will say, as someone who’s not that familiar with Canadian politics…and whose knowledge about Justin Trudeau comes from folks fawning over him over social media, this was illuminating.

The Vaccine Arms Race Ramps Up

Himani: The U.K. was the first country to approve a COVID-19 vaccine (the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine which we shared some reporting on a few weeks ago), meaning the vaccine could start being given to people as soon as next week. Hours later, Putin ordered the start of mass immunization in Russia using the Sputnik V vaccine.

Neither vaccine has actually completed clinical trials (which, as we have covered previously can sometimes lead to devastating consequences). Also, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine hasn’t actually demonstrated that it doesn’t prevent transmission of the disease… I’m going to stop here before I start catastrophizing this situation because it’s just that kind of day, but… I can’t be the only person reading this and shaking my head in dismay, right?

Natalie: I’m trying to remain optimistic about the vaccine but, as we start moving into thinking about distribution — which may include paying people to get vaccinated — I’m starting to worry about how we avoid replicating existing systems and their deficiencies. Are the countries with the most money going to get prioritized? What does distribution to marginalized communities look like? How do we prioritize the incarcerated?

+ The UK has approved a COVID vaccine — here’s what scientists now want to know

+ Putin Orders Mass Coronavirus Vaccination in Russia ‘Next Week’

The Growing Threat of Terrorism

“This Keeps Me Up at Night”: Radicalization Experts Fear What Trump’s Fringes Will Do Now

Rachel: I’m not always a huge fan of discourse that compares harmful large-scale power structures to abusive interpersonal relationships, but at the same time there are I think some kernels of parallel truism there about patterns of power and control in general. One thing I’ve been thinking about a lot since election night (lol, election week and a half) is how abusers become most dangerous to their targets when their target has a chance of freedom from them; statistically, most violence to IPV survivors is enacted when those survivors were trying to leave their abuser. I think we’re entering a really dangerous period, and I’m concerned that there may be less attention paid and therefore pressure applied around the issue of far right domestic terrorism because some folks hope that a Biden presidency means they can stop having to think about this stuff all the time — a scenario where we have increased violence against people of color and immigrants, and white folks with political and social currency largely don’t respond to it because it doesn’t feel like it directly affects them.

Natalie: I’m scared about this too but more so because I actually don’t think the Trump family is going anywhere and, without the office as a constraint (such that it ever was), I think there’s an interest in continuing to sow chaos. Already, there are rumors of another run for Trump in 2024, his son running to head the most powerful lobby in Washington, the National Rifle Association and his daughter-in-law mounting a bid for the Senate in 2022. They are determined to keep their place on the national stage because they believe it inoculates them from facing the consequences of their illegal actions.

She witnessed the aftermath of the Kyle Rittenhouse shootings. Now she’s scared for herself.

Scores Killed In Massacre Of Farmers In Nigeria

“Making Peace with Nature Is the Defining Task of the 21st Century.”

Humanity is waging war on nature, says UN secretary general

Photography campaign shows the grim aftermath of logging in Canada’s fragile forests

Himani: These pictures were incredibly devastating. That was a giant, ancient tree reduced to a stump in a matter of what… hours? How many decades or possibly even centuries had that tree born witness to? How many catastrophes had it survived to be felled by humans for what? A few sheets of paper or maybe a table — both of which will rot some day in a landfill, unable to decompose and complete the cycle of death and rebirth? The world was in uproar over the fires in the Amazon rainforest last year but a first world country is doing essentially the same thing and it largely flies under the radar — is this really all that different?

Trump kick-starts oil drilling licence sales in Arctic refuge

Escalating Situations Around the World

Ethiopia’s unfolding humanitarian crisis, explained by top aid official Jan Egeland

Himani: I was hesitant to include this article in today’s round up because (1) I have linked a lot of Vox articles today, (2) we’ve talked about the crisis in Ethiopia a few times recently and (3) the interview is with a white European aid worker. However, I am including it in because Jan Egeland makes this incredibly important point while noting just how many refugees have fled Ethiopia for Sudan in response to the violence in Tigray:

People come every day, but fewer now than a couple weeks back, when there were more people coming to Sudan than a European country would get in a year. Sudan received more people in three weeks from Tigray than the United States is willing to take as its quota of refugees in a year.

It just goes to show that, in our time and age, nearly all refugees come from one poor country to another poor country. It’s the poor countries that give protection, give safe havens to refugees in our time and age.

Immigration and asylum are increasingly the catalyst for white supremacy to gain political power in Europe and the U.S. And yet while immigrants and asylum-seekers are villainized across the Western world, the Western world isn’t even doing its part to actually offer refuge to people.

And speaking of refugees….

Bangladesh Begins Moving Displaced Rohingya Muslims To Island

Himani: This latest relocation of the Rohingya Muslims is horrifying. But in the context of Egeland’s observation above, it feels a little rich for Western aid organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch and the U.N. to tell Bangladesh it has to stop when these organizations and the powerful Western countries that rule them have done little to support the Rohingya Muslims or offer Bangladesh some kind of assistance in supporting them over the last three years. There’s about a million Rohingya Muslim refugees living in Bangladesh. Even during Obama’s presidency, the U.S. was accepting less than 100,000 asylum seekers in any single year. And obviously, asylum was completely gutted under Trump, but even raising admissions to the pre-Trump levels would not nearly address the scope of the problem.

China and Australia are in a nasty diplomatic spat over a fake tweet — and real war crimes

Himani: It’s incredible to me how Australia’s Brereton report has also largely flown under the radar in the U.S. (and I’m guessing Western, more broadly) news cycle.

3 Hong Kong pro-democracy icons were sentenced to prison in huge blow to protest movement

Himani: This is truly horrendous. Unfortunately, I think a lot of us who have been following the deteriorating situation in Hong Kong for the last year and more saw this coming.

The assassination of a top Iranian nuclear scientist, briefly explained

The War Criminals Trying to Prevent a Genocide

Anderson Cooper left in tears following well-wishes from COVID-19 patient

Anderson Cooper breaks down in tears

Anderson Cooper broke down in tears after a COVID-19 patient congratulated him on the birth of his son.

The gay CNN news anchor welcomed his son Wyatt in April, and revealed that he had become a father for the first time just days later during a broadcast on Anderson Cooper 360°.

Last week, CNN interviewed a woman called Rosa Felipe, who is still being treated after she was hospitalised with COVID-19 in March.

Felipe, 41, has been recovering in Jackson Memorial Hospital, Miami, since she first tested positive for coronavirus.

Sadly, she also has diabetes and asthma – which mean that her recovery has been a long and arduous one.

Rosa Felipe offered her heartfelt congratulations to Anderson Cooper on the birth of his son.

During an interview with CNN’s Randi Kaye, Felipe – who has not even seen her children since March – said: “I’m still grateful that I’m alive. I’m grateful that I made it.”

In a heartbreaking setback, she was recently told that her hands may need to be amputated due to suspected blood clots that formed when she was on a ventilator.

On my behalf, could you please congratulate Anderson Cooper on his baby.

Despite this terrifying experience, Felipe still found time to congratulate Cooper on becoming a father.

“On my behalf, could you please congratulate Anderson Cooper on his baby,” Felipe told Kaye.

“I’m happy that he has a baby and that he’s so cute.”

When the report ended, Cooper was visibly emotional.

“I mean… Wow. What she’s been through,” Cooper said, wiping away tears.

“And what she’s still going through, Anderson,” Kaye replied.

“And yet, that was the only time in our whole interview that she smiled, talking about you and Wyatt.

“She’s been in this dark place, she was on that ventilator for a couple of months. She’s going through possibly losing her hands, she hasn’t seen her children in a couple of month,” Kaye continued.

“She was in this dream like-state where she was watching her life going by on the ventilator.

“So it’s been a really scary time for her, and she hasn’t had any visitors, so when we started talking about you, that’s when she really lit up, and I think she’s really clung to that as sort of this bright spot in all of this.

“We see what the pandemic has done to her and her family and so many others. It was just really sweet, Anderson, that moment. All she wanted to do was talk about you and baby Wyatt.”

Cooper replied: “I want to talk to her. Thank you, Randi, I appreciate it. And we wish her the best and we hope she gets to be reunited with her kids soon.”

The CNN news anchor first shared news of his son’s birth in April.

“I want to share with you some joyful news. On Monday, I became a father,” he said at the time.

Smiling, he added: “I’ve never actually said that out loud and it still kind of astonishes me.

“I’m a dad. I have a son and I want you to meet him.”

He shared a photo of his son, Wyatt, named after his father who died when Cooper was just 10.

What it’s like living in New York City during COVID-19

deserted brooklyn bridge

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I live under the flight path of JFK Airport, and I am used to hearing the roaring noise of planes descending over Brooklyn as they are making their way to New York’s largest airport – usually every few minutes. Right now, however, I hear barely any planes, and what used to be a familiar sound now startles me every time it occurs. The sound of airplanes over New York City has become rare – which is something that I didn’t think was even possible.empty brooklyn streetEmpty street in Brooklyn

But that’s only one of the many changes that I’m experiencing in New York City right now, one of the many things I am getting used to as I am adjusting to what’s referred to as “the new normal” by the media. When I leave my apartment to go grocery shopping, I don’t double check anymore if I have my wallet and my lip balm – instead, I am checking if I have my face mask and my hand sanitizer. I didn’t even carry hand sanitizer on me on a daily basis until only a month ago. And the only reason I even own a small bottle of hand sanitizer is because a friend of mine happened to find a few bottles in her parents’ pantry (finally, their hoarding of pretty much everything for an “emergency” was paying off.). Because a month ago, it was absolutely impossible to find hand sanitizer anywhere in New York City.living in New York City during COVID-19On 10 March, a friend of mine arrived in New York; she was visiting from Europe. When she boarded her flight in Spain, she didn’t expect to be scrambling to get on a flight back to Europe just ten days later – cutting her 3-week U.S. trip considerably short. But when she arrived, New York City was still “open”. We were able to do some sightseeing, we had dinner at TimeOut Market, we climbed the Vessel, we walked the High Line. On 12 March, I took the subway after work to meet my friend to see a Broadway show when I got a text message that all Broadway theaters were closing until further notice – effective immediately. I was in disbelief. All Broadway theaters closed.. had that ever happened before? I knew what this meant: the city would shut down completely, it wouldn’t stop at the theaters.nyc shuttered galleryAnd within days, everything in New York City changed. In less than a week, the entire city had transformed: TimeOut Market closed two days after we ate there, the High Line closed, all the museums closed. Schools and universities closed. On 15 March it was announced that all restaurants would be closing on 17 March (with the option to stay open for take-out and delivery).living in New York City during COVID-19When I walked through my neighborhood the day after restaurants and bars closed, it already felt considerably emptier. New Yorkers were bracing themselves for a “shelter in place” order, which basically meant a lockdown of NYC. Most of the shops were already closed. Back then, New York City had “only” around 800 Coronavirus cases, and a handful deaths. A week later, New York City had 15,000 Coronavirus cases.

Now, four weeks later, walking through my neighborhood feels strange. New York has been on lockdown since 20 March. All the shops have their roll-down gates down, barely any people are outside. It is eerily quiet. I take a stroll around the neighborhood and see some people outside the few shops that are still open. They all have hand-drawn signs on their doors, stating how many people are allowed inside at a time. Some stores allow four people, others only two. Most people cover their mouths with face masks, while others use bandanas or scarves to cover their mouths and noses. Every once in a while, I see someone without a face mask.brooklyn store sign 2020 COVID-19While walking through this strange new world, I keep hearing sirens. They come and go, but they are recurring. A constant reminder of the fact that I am not walking through the movie set of a post-apocalyptic thriller, but that this is still very much New York City. A city that, sadly, has been hit harder than any other city in the world by COVID-19. Every time an ambulance passes me, I can’t help but think of the person inside the ambulance. A month after the “Shelter in place” order went into effect, New York City has just under 139,000 confirmed Coronavirus cases, and over 10,000 people have died. Over 10,000 people in my city have died from COVID-19  in less than a month – let that sink in for a moment.living in New York City during COVID-19It didn’t take very long for me to be personally affected by this virus: while my friend from Europe was still in town mid-March, someone close to me started feeling very ill. All the symptoms sounded like COVID-19, and she went straight to the doctor. There, they ruled out a number of flu strains, and told her that she probably has Coronavirus, but at the time, they didn’t have any tests to verify their suspicion. They told her to go home to self-quarantine for 14 days, since her symptoms weren’t severe enough for hospitalization.

Since I was still feeling well and was able to leave the house to pick up groceries, I became her personal delivery person, supplying her regularly with fresh produce and the occasional treat, to keep her spirits alive. Seeing her struggle through this disease, which took the typical course of first improving before symptoms worsening a week later, made me even more scared of the virus than I already was. A field hospital had been erected in Central Park to treat overflow Coronavirus patients  that hospitals had run out of room for, and a similar makeshift hospital had been set up inside the Javits Convention Center in Manhatten. My biggest fear was ending up in one of these field hospitals, so other than the occasional grocery haul I stayed away from people as possible, and I became so obsessed with washing my hands that my skin started to suffer.Thank you signsI thought I had seen the worst when I saw a person being taken out of an ambulance outside the local hospital one day, a person that looked to be in such a bad state that at first, I didn’t even know if they were alive. But then I saw the morgue trucks. What I saw first was a flower bouquet on the ground, and a big poster thanking the healthcare workers. I wondered why they’d left the flowers there, on the side of the road, when I noticed the humming coming from a truck right behind the sign. And that’s when it hit me. This was one of these morgue trucks in which they stored the bodies that they didn’t have room for inside the hospital’s morgue. I had a hard time breathing when I realized I was standing in front of a truck filled with corpses.Brooklyn COVID-19These images – the morgue trucks, the sick person on the stretcher, but also my sick friend who I’d see every week through the entrance glass door of her building, and whose face looked ashen, with hollow eyes – are images I cannot erase from my brain, and probably will never forget. The sound of sirens will always remind me of these dark times, and I am not the only one. “I feel their presence in my body as an ever-increasing tightness in my shoulders and neck. It is as though, around the clock, the city itself were wailing for its sick and dying.”, writes Lindsay Zoladz in her New York Times article about the ever-present sirens.living in New York City during COVID-19Going grocery shopping has turned from a routinely task into a wearying and sometimes nerve-wrecking undertaking (depending on how many people decide to shop that day, ie. how many people I come in contact with) that requires preparation and caution. Before I leave my house, I have to make sure that I have some wipes in my bag, my mask, hand sanitizer and gloves. Then I make my way to the grocery store on the bike, no matter if it is raining or hailing – I have only used the subway once since the “shelter at home” order went into effect, and that was when I did my first big quarantine shop. I wasn’t even supposed to be here in New York when the city started shutting down, so my fridge and my pantry were as deserted as the shelves in the supermarkets.NYC Covid-19 targetThat first shop was so big that I wasn’t able to haul it back home on a bike, which is why I took the subway for two stops. But I shouldn’t have been nervous about it: There were barely any people on the train. Every time I went out do my grocery shopping, the restrictions got tighter. First, they limited the amount of people inside the store, which is how I ended up in a line that went all the way down the block one time, thinking to myself in panic, “I am too close to too many people.” The next time I ventured outside for groceries, they had drawn lines on the sidewalk with chalk, marking the required six feet safety distance in between each person. These markers were also added inside the grocery store, so that when you get in line at the checkout, you keep your distance, as well.COVID-19 shopping NYCSince 16 April, masks have been mandatory when entering a grocery store. A day later, on 17 April, the governor announced that “New York on Pause”, which had initially been issued until 30 April, would be extended until 15 May – for now. That means a total of nearly nine weeks of New York City on pause. And to be honest, I don’t think that New York City will ease restrictions in mid-May – at least not to the extent that life in New York City as we know it will be possible.COVID-19 screenLast weekend I ventured into Manhattan for the first time since the lockdown started, and it was a bizarre experience. I crossed the Brooklyn Bridge, which was deserted. It was a beautiful spring day, and normally, the bridge would’ve been packed with tourists. Chinatown felt like a ghost town. I only saw two restaurants that were open there, and I saw almost no people out on the street. I cycled up Broadway in SoHo, where you usually find hundreds of shoppers on any given day, but Broadway was empty. I passed only a few people who were taking their dog out for a walk or ran some errands. Some shops were boarded up completely, as if they were expecting looting and riots. This just added to the dystopian feel SoHo had.chinatown april 2020Chinatown feels like a ghost town

I rode my bike past Washington Square Park and Union Square, which, again, would’ve been busy on a sunny spring day. I missed the familiar sounds you usually hear in these places: singing buskers, chatter, laughter, the hip hop music that the dancers usually blast from small portable speakers. The only places that were busy were the Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s supermarkets, where people lined up outside. A few blocks further north, in Madison Square Park, a few people were sitting in the park, and there was a line in front of Eataly, but the little square right across the Flatiron Building was deserted.nyc grocery shop line covid-19The line outside a grocery store

Grand Central Terminal felt like a shadow of its former self. On a regular day, you’d see thousands of people rush through the Grand Concourse, on the way to or from their train. Now, all I could think was how strangely quiet it was. The only people in the station that day were people who wanted to take photos of the abandoned station. Instead of announcing train departures, the announcements that came through the speakers were all COVID-19 health and safety guidelines.grand central terminal nyc during COVID-19Grand Central Terminal completely deserted

I walked over to Times Square, and 42nd Street was so empty that I could’ve walked in the middle of the street. Normally, this is one of the most congested streets in Manhattan. Experiencing the city “on mute” was heartbreaking. Not only the hustle and bustle of the city had disappeared, but also that pulsating energy that makes New York feel so unique. There’s usually a vibrancy in the air that makes me walk with a spring in my step, and it made me realize how much of New York’s energy comes from its busy street life. The hot dog vendors, the yelling of people, the traffic noise, even the honking of the cars.Times Square April 2020Silent New York is not the same. You don’t realize how much things like cafes, street kiosks, restaurants, bodegas, and street vendors contribute to the overall atmosphere of a city until they’re gone. Seeing the Broadway theaters shuttered was depressing – theaters, comedy clubs and other performance venues are such a big part of the social life in New York.Times Square without any tourists was something I never thought I’d see. Even when I walked through Times Square at 5.30am in a snowstorm a few years ago, there were more people around than now. I also never thought I’d say this: Times Square without any tourists feels kind of dull.Times Square NYC April 2020I’ll be the first one to admit that I curse the crowds every time I have to pass through Times Square on the way to something, but seeing it so empty changed the entire atmosphere. The ever so bustling area felt like a sleepy square. The only two things that were the same: The glitzy billboards which were still advertising clothes companies and streaming services, and the Naked Cowboy, who was entertaining the few people that were lingering in Times Square.street vendor selling face masksInstead of souvenirs, the street vendors are now selling hand sanitizer and face masks

What’s the most devastating about the city on lockdown is how many people’s livelihoods are affected or even destroyed by this pandemic. My heart breaks for all the owners of the small independent shops, the bodegas, the coffee shops and restaurants that contribute so much to the lively, social atmosphere of New York City. They are now struggling to pay the rent for their shops while they cannot use them, they had to lay off employees, and they may not even be able to reopen their businesses. Every week I read about restaurants that announce will not re-open, about people who were laid off and aren’t able to pay their rent and bills now. Over 40% of layoffs related to COVID-19 happened in the restaurant industry. In a city with a restaurant scene as thriving as New York City, the impact of the lockdown is absolutely devastating. Over half a million restaurant workers are out of work right now in New York State – and this number is still growing.boarded up shop soho nycLife in New York is never easy, even when the economy is doing great, a lot of people work harder than elsewhere to make ends meet. But now, with the city heading into a recession, piling up debt, life in New York will be even challenging, and it’ll take a long time for things to go back to normal. And what does that even mean, normal? Nobody even knows what the “post-COVID-19 normal” will look like. When will the theaters be able to re-open? When can we go to bars and restaurants again and will it be possible the same way it was pre-COVID-19? Will sports bars be ever as packed again for major sports events as they were before this pandemic? When will we be able to enjoy concerts again and watch a baseball game in Yankees Stadium? When will tourists return to New York?park slope shuttered storesAll large parades scheduled for June, including New York Pride, have been canceled. It was announced that public pools wouldn’t open at all in 2020. Beaches may not open this summer either. This summer will not be like any other summer, because most of the things that make New York in the summer so great will not be possible: enjoying beaches, rooftop bars, outdoor concerts and movies, having drinks in a backyard patio of a bar, strolling around flea markets and street fairs.living in New York City during COVID-19 The unemployment rate in NYC was at around 4.3 per cent before COVID-19: in the entire month of February, 137,391 people filed for unemployment in New York City. In the first week of the lockdown, 521,112 claims were filed. That’s more than three times the amount of claims the city usually sees in a month. Unemployment claims have now increased by 2,637%. During the financial crisis in 2008, the entire state of New York lost around 300,000 jobs. New York City alone has already lost more jobs than that. NY ToughThe Mayor of New York City is facing a projected $7.4 billion deficit in the city budget (mostly in lost tax revenue) and the economic impact of COVID-19 can be compared to the Great Depression. This deficit means that many city programs will be canceled, for example summer camp programs and the youth employment program which usually enrolls about 75,000 low-income students. social distancing brooklyn storeEven when this pandemic is over, New York City will struggle to get back to its former glorious self. But instead of with a depressing and gloomy outlook on post-COVID-19 New York City, I want to finish this article with this beautiful video and the optimistic words of New York’s governor Andrew Cuomo:

“And we’re going to get through it because we are New York, and because we’ve dealt with a lot of things, and because we are smart. You have to be smart to make it in New York. And we are resourceful, and we are showing how resourceful we are. And because we are united, and when you are united, there is nothing you can’t do. And because we are New York tough. We are tough. You have to be tough. This place makes you tough. But it makes you tough in a good way. We’re going to make it because I love New York, and I love New York because New York loves you.

New York loves all of you. Black and white and brown and Asian and short and tall and gay and straight. New York loves everyone. That’s why I love New York. It always has, it always will. And at the end of the day, my friends, even if it is a long day, and this is a long day, love wins. Always. And it will win again through this virus.”

COVID-19 won’t stop Pride as LGBTQ plan digital celebrations

COVID-19 won't stop Pride as LGBTQ plan digital celebrations

Photo via Proud Parenting Family Photo Gallery

Three months into 2020, more than 220 Pride celebrations scheduled worldwide have been forced to cancel or postpone due to the coronavirus pandemic. Now, with rights coming under threat in various places and exacerbated by the virus outbreak, organizers are finding innovative ways of reaching out to their communities to provide alternative spaces online to celebrate. 

InterPride and the European Pride Organisers Association announced they’re working with international LGBTQ organizations to present Global Pride 2020, a live-streamed festival scheduled for Saturday, June 27. This means the event will be accessible regardless of disability, location, or socioeconomic status. Anyone with an internet connection will be able to participate. For many Pride events around the world, this level of accessibility will be a first.

“LGBT people around the world are insanely resilient, but they face isolation every day in their life,” says J. Andrew Baker, co-President of Interpride, the international association of Pride organizers. “One of the challenges we find today is that LGBT people are even more isolated.” To overcome that isolation, the world’s biggest international Pride networks, Interpride and the European Pride Organisers Association, are organizing a “Global Pride” to be celebrated online on June 27. Global Pride organizers are planning a 24-hour live streamed event, including remote contributions from international Prides, speeches from human rights activists, workshops with activists and high-profile performers yet to be confirmed. 

via Time

For many, Pride is much more than a one-off party or day-long festival. It’s an opportunity for people who may not be “out” publicly to feel comfortable, surrounded by others in their community. The Pride movement emerged after the Stonewall Riots in 1969, and some Prides today have carried on that tradition of protest, using events as an opportunity to connect with other marginalized communities. “It’s become the cornerstone of LGBTQ communities,” says Jed Dowling, the festival director of Dublin LGBTQ Pride. “It’s our Patrick’s Day, it’s our 4th of July, it’s a symbol of everything that was achieved through the year.” This year, activists around the world were planning major celebrations, from Dublin, where same-sex marriage was legalized in 2015, to Zurich, where a recent vote backed proposals to make discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity illegal.