Tag: Making

Dazzling winter wedding ten years in the making

Dazzling winter wedding ten years in the making

After an epic flash mob proposal, Samantha and Leah’s winter wedding took place on the historic riverfront of Wilmington, North Carolina.

The couple, who had already been together for ten years, wrote that they “were going for a laid back yet elegant vibe with a mix of the old with the new, (first look photos on a roof top bar but a ceremony in an old warehouse).”

“We have always had a Champagne Taste on a Soda Pop budget,” they say, “So we had furs for the bridesmaids but DIY decor! Our wedding was all about our friendship to each other and creating a warm space that was completely surrounded by love, family, and friendship.”

What advice would you give to engaged LGBTQ+ couples?

The best advice we can give is to not worry about appeasing people’s expectations. Be as traditional or unique as YOU BOTH want. Just because your wedding may look different to some, you are still allowed to have traditional elements if that is what you have always pictured. At the end of the day, your wedding is all about you and your partner, so do not stress about the little things that you feel like you “have to have” because people expect it.

For example, we stressed a long time about having thank you gifts or not because we felt like it was an unnecessary expense but were worried people would be expecting it. We ended up skipping the party favor and served McDonalds cheeseburgers at the end of the night instead and of course, no one was disappointed!

What advice do you have for vendors and venues working with LGBTQ+ couples

Be open, accepting, and willing to think outside of the box. It is 100% okay to ask what you are unsure of (like pronouns, future names, who wants to walk down the aisle first, etc.) but make sure to listen to what the couple is asking. Also, just think before you speak! Nothing frustrated us more than when someone would ask so who’s the “groom” in your wedding….There is no groom we are both brides!

Did you encounter any pleasant surprises as an LGBTQ+ couple planning your wedding?

I think the best part about planning our wedding together was that since we were both brides we were able to do almost everything together! Our favorite among the pre-wedding activities was having a joint bachelorette party. Our friend group is so incredibly close that there was no way we could have had separate parties without the other being left at home completely alone.

Dazzling winter wedding ten years in the making | Matt Ray Photography | Featured on Equally Wed, the leading LGBTQ+ wedding magazine

Dazzling winter wedding ten years in the making | Matt Ray Photography | Featured on Equally Wed, the leading LGBTQ+ wedding magazine

Dazzling winter wedding ten years in the making | Matt Ray Photography | Featured on Equally Wed, the leading LGBTQ+ wedding magazine

Dazzling winter wedding ten years in the making | Matt Ray Photography | Featured on Equally Wed, the leading LGBTQ+ wedding magazine

Dazzling winter wedding ten years in the making | Matt Ray Photography | Featured on Equally Wed, the leading LGBTQ+ wedding magazine

Dazzling winter wedding ten years in the making | Matt Ray Photography | Featured on Equally Wed, the leading LGBTQ+ wedding magazine

Dazzling winter wedding ten years in the making | Matt Ray Photography | Featured on Equally Wed, the leading LGBTQ+ wedding magazine

Dazzling winter wedding ten years in the making | Matt Ray Photography | Featured on Equally Wed, the leading LGBTQ+ wedding magazine

Dazzling winter wedding ten years in the making | Matt Ray Photography | Featured on Equally Wed, the leading LGBTQ+ wedding magazine

Dazzling winter wedding ten years in the making | Matt Ray Photography | Featured on Equally Wed, the leading LGBTQ+ wedding magazine

Dazzling winter wedding ten years in the making | Matt Ray Photography | Featured on Equally Wed, the leading LGBTQ+ wedding magazine

Dazzling winter wedding ten years in the making | Matt Ray Photography | Featured on Equally Wed, the leading LGBTQ+ wedding magazine

Dazzling winter wedding ten years in the making | Matt Ray Photography | Featured on Equally Wed, the leading LGBTQ+ wedding magazine

Dazzling winter wedding ten years in the making | Matt Ray Photography | Featured on Equally Wed, the leading LGBTQ+ wedding magazine

Dazzling winter wedding ten years in the making | Matt Ray Photography | Featured on Equally Wed, the leading LGBTQ+ wedding magazine

Dazzling winter wedding ten years in the making | Matt Ray Photography | Featured on Equally Wed, the leading LGBTQ+ wedding magazine

Dazzling winter wedding ten years in the making | Matt Ray Photography | Featured on Equally Wed, the leading LGBTQ+ wedding magazine

Dazzling winter wedding ten years in the making | Matt Ray Photography | Featured on Equally Wed, the leading LGBTQ+ wedding magazine

Dazzling winter wedding ten years in the making | Matt Ray Photography | Featured on Equally Wed, the leading LGBTQ+ wedding magazine

Search our directory of LGBTQ+ inclusive vendors.


Photographer: Matt Ray Photography

Venue: Warehouse on Water

Florist: Gather Events

Planner: Michael Braxton

Invitation Designer: Minted

Attire for Partner 1: Stella York

Attire for Partner 2: Rebecca Ingram

Jewelry: Perry’s Emporium

Bridesmaid Attire: David’s Bridal, Slate Blue

Bridesmen/Father’s Attire: Generation Tux

Caterer: Bill’s Catering

Cake Designer: Nothing Bundt Cakes

Hair and Makeup: Beauty Crew Mobile

Event: Making the Queer Media You Want to See in the World With Gabrielle Korn and Riese

Event: Making the Queer Media You Want to See in

“I applied [to Autostraddle] with a reported story about the history of a 1973 poster I’d found at the Lesbian Herstory Archives. It was an image of two women, one topless, with the caption I’LL ALWAYS LOVE MY MAMA.”

Everybody (Else) is Perfect: How I Survived Hypocrisy, Beauty, Clicks, and Likes by Gabrielle Korn

Gabrielle Korn would go on to join the Autostraddle team and publish this piece, her first for Autostraddle, in 2012, eventually launching the columns How to Own It and Lez Get Dressed for Work. Her book spans her career in media, from her first role at Refinery 29, to her promotion to Editor in Chief at Nylon in the same year that Nylon discontinued its print magazine in 2017. 

In honor of the publication of Gabrielle’s book and our fundraiser, we’re hosting a conversation between Riese Bernard, Co-Founder and CEO of Autostraddle, and Gabrielle Korn, about queer internet culture, the current media landscape and how we go about building the queer media we want to see in the world. It will be so much fun and we hope to see you there!!!

Where: Crowdcast
When: February 18, 2021 4:30pm PST / 7:30 EST
How Much: Free
Accessibility: Realtime captioning for this event will be provided by White Coat Captioning. You can access the captioning by opening up the following Streamtext link in a separate window. A transcript of this event will be published on Autostraddle.com on February 19, 2021.

Support Independent Queer Media

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An SOS to my only queer gal pal- advice for making the first move?? : actuallesbians

An SOS to my only queer gal pal- advice for

A place for discussions for and by cis and trans lesbians, bisexual girls, chicks who like chicks, bi-curious folks, dykes, butches, femmes, girls who kiss girls, birls, bois, aces, LGBT allies, and anyone else interested! Our subreddit is named r/actuallesbians because r/lesbians is not really for or by lesbians–it was meant to be a joke. We’re not a militant or exclusive group, so feel free to join up!

“If These Ovaries Could Talk” Book Brings Podcast Humor and Insight to LGBTQ Family Making

"If These Ovaries Could Talk" Book Brings Podcast Humor and

A new book by the hosts of a popular podcast captures the lively spirit of the show and the insights of their many guests as it explores LGBTQ family making.

If These Ovaries Could Talk

If These Ovaries Could Talk: The Things We’ve Learned About Making an LGBTQ Family, by Jaimie Kelton and Robin Hopkins, might more accurately have been subtitled “… Making LGBTQ Families,” because there are many of them here and they’re a varied lot. Since January 2018, when Kelton and Hopkins launched their If These Ovaries Could Talk podcast, they’ve spoken with dozens of LGBTQ parents, parents-to-be, and their children, including celebrities like comedian Judy Gold, poet StaceyAnn Chin, and Iowa State Senator Zach Wahls; medical, legal, and financial experts; and many other individuals and couples of various identities and at different stages of their parenting journeys. Their book, culled from the many conversations they’ve had, is aimed at two audiences: LGBTQ people who want to start a family and curious non-LGBTQ folks who might want to know more about LGBTQ families but have been “too afraid to ask.”

That sets it apart from many of the other books about LGBTQ family making, which are aimed more exclusively at prospective LGBTQ parents. The dual audience for this book, though, parallels the goal of the podcast “to normalize (for lack of a better word) our nontraditional families. To show the world our struggles, our love, our joy, our thoughtfulness and our humanity.” Hopkins and Kelton find the balance between those audiences by focusing on sharing stories rather than creating a step-by-step how-to manual—yet there’s still plenty of practical information here for those who want it. Although they don’t shy away from the many challenges faced by LGBTQ parents—both as LGBTQ people and as parents—they also give readers a big heaping dose of joy and positivity. “Our families are freaking fabulous,” they emote.

If These Ovaries Could Talk

Jaimie Kelton (L) and Robin Hopkins (R). Photo credit: Lit Riot Press

Kelton and Hopkins, both award-winning actors, bring their signature humor and chatty tone to keep things conversational, even when discussing serious topics. Hopkins began her career as a stand-up comic in New York City and is now an executive producer of the podcast Amy Schumer Presents: 3 Girls, 1 Keith. Her film and TV credits include Boardwalk EmpireLouie, Hindsight and more. She’s also an accomplished playwright. Kelton has over 17 years of stage experience as an actor, singer, and dancer, and has done voiceover work for Disney’s The Octonauts, Amazon’s Bug Diaries, and SYFY’s Happy, among other shows. Importantly, too, they’re both lesbian moms who also share their own stories.

Rather than simply give us transcripts of their podcast episodes, however, they’ve sifted through them to compile key stories and dialogues into thematic chapters. Most chapters begin with short introductory pieces by each of them, followed by the first-person reflections on the chapter’s topic by several podcast guests, sometimes in conversation with each other or the hosts.

The first section of the book is about starting a family, beginning with a chapter on deciding if you even want to do so. There are chapters on donors, assisted reproduction, adoption and foster care, and “Trans and Fertility” (awkwardly named but thoughtfully done in that the cisgender authors step back to let transgender people speak for themselves). The second section looks at topics for those who already have kids. Here we have chapters on money and legal issues, “Being Out as a Family”; “Talking to Your Kids About Their Family”; families that include networks of donors, donor siblings, and other adults; being a non-biological, adoptive, or step parent; intersectional issues including race, religion, and gender fluidity; and “Growing Up with Gay Parents.” A glossary at the end provides a helpful look at some commonly used terms.

Perhaps most importantly, the stories here convey the great variety of LGBTQ parenting experiences. The book is, of course, limited by the identities and experiences of Hopkins, Kelton, and their guests as of the book’s writing—they’re a diverse lot, but don’t, for example, include any parents who identify (at least in the book) as bisexual or any children of transgender parents. (They do, however, include transgender parents and bisexual children of LGBTQ parents, though one guest’s description of her daughter as both “bisexual” and “lesbian” begs clarification.) Their podcast continues, though; perhaps there will be a second book as well, with even more varied voices.

A few quibbles have more to do with the editing than the main content of the book. There are an unfortunate number of typos, which I hope can be corrected in a future edition. A full index would have been helpful. A list of the podcast episodes and guests would have benefited from including the episode dates. Those are minor issues, however, and do not substantially detract from the thoughtful stories, information, and sense of community conveyed by the many voices here.

If you want to be inspired by other LGBTQ families who have been have through some of the same decision-making processes; if you want to feel like you’re in a fun group discussion with other LGBTQ parents and their children that makes the whole experience less daunting; or if you want a book to share with non-LGBTQ relatives, friends, and neighbors about our families, then this is the book for you. Let’s hope these ovaries keep talking.

Like the book? Keep up with If These Ovaries Could Talk wherever you listen to podcasts.

(I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program that provides a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.)

Sunday Funday Is Making a High Holidays Cheese Plate with Audre Lorde!

Sunday Funday Is Making a High Holidays Cheese Plate with

Hello! Happy Sunday! L’shana tova?! I don’t know y’all, “a sweet new year” kind of feels like a threat? But yes, it’s the Jewish New Year, there’s a chill in the air, and perhaps we are learning a lesson in holding joy and pain together.

Well friends, thanks but I hate it. I just want VIBES, you know? Like, this summer I wanted braids, and good music and kombuchas with friends while laying under a shady tree, and this autumn I want flat twists, Bon Iver, warm apple juice, and dinner parties! BUT NOOOOOO, we have to grapple with our mortality and think about who we want to be and dig deep into methods of care… WHERE ARE THE VIBES??? Anyway. This is “Sunday Funday” not “Sunday when Ari lets out all of their anxieties about the state of the world Day.” So, let’s get to something fun, shall we?

+ Octavia Butler’s books are becoming pandemic reading for a lot of us, and it makes sense! (We even read Parable of the Sower together earlier this year, right here on Autostraddle!)

+ Autumnal clothing being sewed!! Cute!!!!

+ Mabel Ping-Hua Lee is a feminist you should know.

Lee is believed to have been born around 1895 in Guangzhou, China. She moved to the United States around 1905 to join her father, the Rev. Lee To, a Christian missionary who had been assigned to a church in Chinatown. She lived with her parents there on Bayard Street. The Lees were among the rare Chinese immigrants who were allowed into the United States at the time under federal legislation that had sharply restricted their entry since 1882, when Congress passed the Exclusion Act, banning Chinese laborers to appease white nativists who had resented an influx of Chinese-immigrant prospectors and railroad workers in the West.

+ Zoe Hsu is casting illustrating Black and Brown folks into traditionally white movies.

Roxane Gay writes on the legacy of Audre Lorde.

+ RBG’s most iconic quotes. May her memory be a blessing to us all.

+ Happy New Year Jewish family!! If you, like me, are all alone, maybe a cheese plate will make you feel better!

+ Why is no one talking about 1930s shoes?!

+ God, remember snack time in middle school???

+ The pope loves your gay kids! 🙏🏾📿

+ Julie and the Phantoms has a super cute queer romance.

Well friends, that’s what we’ve got today. I love you, I love our little happy chats, I’m thankful for all you are and for how hard you’re trying. This week is gonna be good, I know it. Breathe in the cool weather, take a (masked) walk in the breeze, clean your windows, wake up with the sunrise one morning (or every morning if you have a cat who loves to yell). Keep on keeping on.

Did I mention I love you? I do! I really do. Kick ass this week. You’re amazing.


Ari is a 20-something artist and educator. They are a mom to two cats, they love domesticity, ritual, and porch time. They have studied, loved, and learned in CT, Greensboro, NC, and ATX.

Ari has written 321 articles for us.

the things we’ve learned about making an LGBTQ family – Lesbian.com

the things we’ve learned about making an LGBTQ family –

Special to Lesbian.com

If these ovaries could talk“There is no simple way for LGBTQ folks to have babies. There are so many decisions that we have to make because we have too much of one thing and not enough of the other. Two women have two uterus (or is it uteruses? uteri?), but they don’t have sperm. Two men have all the sperm in the world, but come up short in the eggs and hopper department. And with trans fertility, the questions are more specific to each individual or couple, but that doesn’t mean there are fewer questions to be answered.

In terms of paths, you can embark on the scientific route, but you’ll need to figure out who will carry the baby, whose egg will be used, who will donate the sperm, who will go first. Perhaps you’ll consider using a surrogate, IVF, IUI, or even trying at home with what we like to call the “turkey baster method”. You may think about adopting. If you do, you’ll need to figure out if you want to adopt internationally or domestically or if you want to use an adoption lawyer or private agency. And don’t forget there’s always the option of being foster parents.

Wherever you fall on the LGBTQ spectrum, if you want to have a kid, you’ll have to figure out how to make that baby. And no matter which path you choose, it will cost ya…a lot.

Now, you’d think there would be a lot of grumbling from LGBTQ folks about how hard it is to make families. Well, we’re here to tell you that hasn’t been our experience. The folks we’ve talked to have made thoughtful decisions and were deliberate and intentional at every turn. Instead of the process feeling like a cross to bear, every choice they made defined and illuminated their families in love. And that’s beautiful.”

Robin and Jaimie share about their stories too like that time Jaimie assumed she’d be the one to carry their babies.

“I have always wanted to birth a child. Being gay never once deterred me. It just solidified the fact that I had to partner with a woman who wanted to be a mother and felt no need to carry. Luckily, Anne fit those criteria.

So, imagine my shock when Anne said to me, in a bar, a month after our wedding, ‘Ya know, I think I wanna have a baby.’

‘I’m sorry, what?’ I asked calmly while trying not to choke on the beer I was having trouble forcing down my throat.

My anxiety kicked in. I made Anne promise that if we do this ‘you have a baby’ thing, I still get to have mine. She assured me that she wouldn’t back out of our agreement, we would have two children, no matter what. I forced her to pinky swear her loyalty to the plan religiously throughout the next five years it took to get that second baby in our arms.”

And Robin’s path to parenting had some twists and turns too.

From the moment my wife and I learned about reciprocal IVF (using my eggs but Mary would carry) we were all about it. The idea that we could make a baby who would have my genetics, but literally be made from Mary’s bones, seemed like the coolest science experiment ever invented.

We knew that was how we would create our family.

The downside? It would cost around $26,0000, and we only had enough money to try once. That meant no more IVFs and no more savings account. But we were blinded by the idea that the baby would be made of the two of us, so we forged ahead. It wasn’t until we were handed ten different prescription forms that we began to question our plan. I couldn’t help but think about the fact that the odds of us having a successful pregnancy in one round of IVF were not on our side. Not to mention what we would be putting ourselves through physically.

That’s when my wife said, “Are we going about this the hardest possible way?”

The answer was, “Yes.” We loved the idea of the baby coming from both of us, but we needed to prioritize being parents and being fiscally responsible over needing our baby to be from both of us. These are the decisions us L, G, B, T & Q’s have to make.

If These Ovaries Could Talk: The Things We’ve Learned About Making an LGBTQ Family includes stories from actor and comedian, Judy Gold, State Senator, Zach Wahls, poet, activist, and author, Staceyann Chin, America’s Got Talent alum, Julia Scotti, and The Abbys from Bravo TV.

This book is an informative, in-depth journey that is equal parts funny, serious, happy, sad, celebratory, cautionary, and powerful. Robin and Jaime compare the journey to parenthood for LGBTQ folks to a roller coaster ride. “At first, you’re really excited. The car chugs up the hill, clink-by-clink, and suddenly you’re wondering when was the last time they tightened the bolts on the tracks? That’s how it is when you’re spending a lot of money trying to have kids in a world that’s not set up for families like yours. You just have to hold on and try to enjoy the ride.”

Excerpt(s) from If These Ovaries Could Talk: The Things We’ve Learned About Making an LGBTQ Family. Copyright © 2020 Jaimie Kelton and Robin Hopkins. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from Lit Riot Press.


Joe Biden hands Pete Buttigieg key role in making his presidency a reality

Joe Biden hands Pete Buttigieg key role in making his

Former Mayor of South Bend Pete Buttigieg (David Cliff/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Pete Buttigieg has been tapped to serve in a key role on the presidential transition team of his former rival Joe Biden.

Biden is currently putting together a transition team, which will lay the groundwork for him to take office in January if he triumphs over Donald Trump in the 3 November election.

Buttigieg, who exploded onto the national scene before ending his pioneering bid for president back in March, has been appointed to a 15-person advisory board for Biden’s transition team.

Joe Biden hires Pete Buttigieg for transition team role.

According to CNN, other advisory board members include former national security adviser Susan Rice and former deputy attorney general Sally Yates.

Former Delaware senator Ted Kaufman, who will co-chair the transition team, said: “We are preparing for this transition amid the backdrop of a global health crisis and struggling economy. This is a transition like no other, and the team being assembled will help Joe Biden meet the urgent challenges facing our country on day one.

“The co-chairs, advisory board, and senior staff are a diverse group of experts who are committed to helping a possible Biden-Harris administration beat the public health crisis and put Americans back to work in good-paying jobs.”

Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg announces he is ending his campaign to be the Democratic nominee for president on March 1, 2020
Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg announces he is ending his campaign to be the Democratic nominee for president on March 1, 2020 (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Buttigieg tweeted: “The character of our country is on the ballot.”

The Indiana mayor was previously promised a key role by Biden when he dropped out in March.

Biden had said: “I did speak to Pete Buttigieg a couple of days ago to encourage him to stay engaged because he has enormous talent.

“I indicated to him that if I become the nominee, I’d come and ask him to be part of the administration, to be engaged in moving things forward.”

Former presidential candidate has been vocal in his support for Biden.

Since the election, Buttigieg has taken up an academic post at the University of Notre Dame, and has continued to stump for Biden.

Last month he gave a moving speech at the Democratic National Convention that touched on the presidential candidate’s history of supporting LGBT+ rights.

He explained: “Just over 10 years ago, I joined a military where firing me because of who I am wasn’t just possible – it was policy. Now in 2020, it is unlawful in America to fire anyone because of who they are or who they love.

“The very ring on my finger – a wedding we celebrated right where I’m standing – reflects how this country can change.

‘Love makes my marriage real, but political courage made it possible – including that of Joe Biden, who stepped out ahead of even this party when he said that marriage equality should be the law of the land.”

Extra! Extra!: Making Sense of a Summer Shaped by Violence

Extra! Extra!: Making Sense of a Summer Shaped by Violence

This week’s Extra! Extra! brings news from yet another grim week of police brutality in America. The state-sanctioned violence continues, people protest peacefully and are attacked and even killed by law enforcement and vigilantes (who are also, more or less, supported by law enforcement). We also bring a brief update on the state of the US election after both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions wrapped up, an update on some of the situations we’ve been following in Lebanon and Russia and, finally, on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Another Day In America, Another Story of Police Brutality

Fatal Police Shooting Of Black Man In Louisiana Sparks Outrage And Protest

Natalie: Today, you will be reminded that it is the 12th anniversary of Barack Obama accepting the Democratic nomination for President. Today, you will also be reminded that it is the 57th anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Activists from across the globe are converging on Washington, DC — both physically and virtually — to echo King’s clarion call for civil and economic justice.

But what you might not hear about is that today is also the 65th anniversary of the murder of Emmett Till. For the sin of saying “bye baby” after purchasing bubble gum, the teenager was dragged “from his bed, beat…to the point of disfigurement, and shot…before [his body was tossed] into the Tallahatchie River with a cotton-gin fan attached with barbed wire laced to his neck to weigh him down.” Till’s mama, famously, left his casket open on the day of his funeral so America could see what it had wrought. It happened 65 years ago…we’ve never been so far from Till’s death and yet the environment that provoked it feels as alive today as it ever has during my lifetime.

After video shows Wisconsin police shooting a Black man multiple times, National Guard is called to Kenosha

Natalie: Last week, in this very space, I urged folks to do more to protect black and brown trans women. I castigated those who stood by and did nothing while three trans women were getting beaten. Then, because irony is so especially cruel, the police in Kenosha, Wisconsin kill Jacob Blake for doing something… he is paralyzed from the waist down and (!!) handcuffed in a hospital bed for breaking up a fight.

I don’t know what to do or say except that I’m tired. I’m heartbroken and I’m so, so tired.

Rachel: The unspeakably violent and brutal attempted murder of Jacob Blake absolutely knocked the wind out of me; after a summer of such intense and inspiring organizing, it felt unbearable to know that even with a once-in-a-generation moment of unity and outrage, police still felt comfortable doing this. I’m also so, so glad that Blake has survived, and am infuriated that he remains under arrest (for what???) and hope he can be reunited with his family soon. I also want to note that after his injuries, Blake joins a multiply marginalized group as a Black disabled man, and it’s all our duty to support him and other Black disabled people in the specificity of what they experience; we can’t forget about Blake as a person either because he survived the attempt at murdering him or because we think of him as somehow no longer a participant in our world because he’s disabled. Standing against the police violence enacted on Blake means continuing to support his needs as a disabled person in the long-term, especially knowing that we live in a state that won’t. Blake and other disabled folks are actually at greater risk of police violence now; disabled people experience extremely disproportionate rates of police violence, and Black disabled folks are at high particular risk. The pandemic we’re living through will also leave generations of people disabled in ways that they weren’t prior to COVID, and it’s a pandemic that’s disproportionately impacting Black folks in the US — it’s an extremely important time for able-bodied and non-Black people to really prioritize how to materially support and act in solidarity with Black disabled people.

FBI: Police fatally shoot man on North Dakota reservation

Natalie: Unbeknownst to most, the group with the highest rate of deaths from police brutality aren’t Black or Latinx; they’re Native Americans. Their communities are, historically, overpoliced and, far too often, the consequences are deadly. Native lives matter…and we should say their name too: Brandon Laducer.

Phoenix police held man on hot asphalt for nearly 6 minutes before he died, video shows


Himani: Every time I read a headline about another person (almost always Black or Native American) shot by the police (or someone who thinks they are the police, because really it doesn’t matter either way), I think to myself, “And how many more people are there who were shot by the police that I don’t even know about?”

Honestly, I don’t even know what to say, and this violence doesn’t shape my life the way that it does for Black and Indigenous people. I want to try to be hopeful that change is on the horizon — somewhere — because, as a friend so powerfully pointed out to me recently, it’s not my place to be hopeless when my life isn’t the one that’s on the line. But really, truly, what will it take to change this? I can’t understand how anyone supports law enforcement or those who think they’re acting in the spirit of law enforcement after all of this. And yet somehow, I’m still walking by houses and businesses with the police flag hanging outside. How can a person be so cavalier?

The people who commit these acts of brutality truly lack humanity. And the people who abet them also clearly do, as well.

There Is No Debate To Be Had: Police Reform Does Not Work

When “Police Reform” Came to Kenosha, Wisconsin

“Most Cops Are Good”

Himani: How many times have we heard this story? A city invested in police reform and the police violence continued. But as Natalie discusses in greater detail below, law enforcement has a white supremacy problem. How can you give so much power to people who are so clearly adherents of violent extremism and then think a couple of aluminum guardrails are going to keep them in check? The real question is why anyone has that much power in the first place.

White supremacists and militias have infiltrated police across US, report says

Natalie: Remember in 2009 when the Obama administration released a report called, “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment,” and Republicans proceeded to lose their shit? The administration stuck it quietly back on the shelf to quell the backlash. In the decade since, the tide of violence it portended has come to pass.

The Brennan Center’s report, “Hidden in Plain Sight: Racism, White Supremacy, and Far-Right Militancy in Law Enforcement,” echoes a lot of that 2009 DHS report…only with a greater focus on law enforcement. We’d be fools not to listen this time.

Police Brutality Is Horrific. And It’s Just One Part of the Problem.

Black Homeowners Face Discrimination in Appraisals

Natalie: This is egregious and offensive — it’s stunning how blatant this is — but, as someone who grew up in a multi-racial home, it completely tracks with my experience. Even today, I’m nervous about accompanying my white mother into certain spaces where my black skin might prove disadvantageous to her.

Black Workers Are More Likely to Be Unemployed but Less Likely to Get Unemployment Benefits

Himani: I’m not really sure this comes as news to anyone. But somehow, amazingly, stereotypes about who “exploits” social services abound.

To Reappropriate Orwell: “All Protests Are Equal, But Some Protests Are More Equal.”

Unmasked Protesters Push Past Police Into Idaho Lawmakers’ Session

Natalie: A few weeks ago in Tennessee, the state legislature passed a law cracking down on protesters. Under the new law, if Tennessee protesters illegally camp on state property, they face a Class E felony, punishable by six years and prison and the loss of the right to vote. Before the bills passage, State Rep. Jason Hodges spoke the quiet part aloud, “We seem to not worry about protesting when we as white people show up to our capitols with AR-15s, but when black people show up with signs, it just seems like all of a sudden we want to pass legislation.”

It is impossible to see these scenes out of Idaho and not think about that…about who the state allows to protest and whose voices are welcome on the public square and whose are not. This report from NPR notes that six years ago, activists advocating for “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to be added to the state’s Human Rights Act were arrested, despite being relatively silent. But these people, who carry weapons to intimidate the people around them and who vandalize state property, are just allowed to do so…without any repercussions.

Rachel: I’m reminded of the history of American gun control (“gun control,” such as it is) here — to the extent that we have laws regulating what kind of firearms one can own and who can own them, much of that is due to the Black Panthers’ (legal) open carrying of firearms for their self-defense and defense of their communities in the 1960s. This Buzzfeed piece goes into much more detail (very worth reading!) but as the head summarizes: “when Black people carried guns, conservatives supported gun control.” A bill aimed at restricting the open carry of loaded firearms was actually introduced by “a conservative Republican in the California legislature named Don Mulford, who sought to prohibit the public carrying of loaded firearms in the state — a move clearly targeted to disband or weaken the Black Panthers by criminalizing their signature tactic. The NRA supported Mulford’s bill, which was consistent with the moderate stance the organization had taken on gun control legislation throughout most of its history up to that point.” Since then, (limited) gun control measures have passed into law in the US; however, we can see from the unspeakable violence Kyle Rittenhouse was easily able to unleash that they’re enforced in a racially disparate way (Rittenhouse’s open carrying of firearms was no problem, but we’re supposed to agree that Blake’s allegedly inside his car somehow was?). Much like legally mandated COVID precautions, much like laws aimed at protesters, drug offenses, sexual assault offenses; much like everything. It’s a sobering reminder both of how entrenched anti-Black racism is in our infrastructures as well as the limits of trying to legislate our values if we don’t change our culture.

17-year-old charged with murder in Kenosha, Wisconsin, shootings

Natalie: There’s a continuum of how we allow whiteness and white supremacy in this country…which begins with insolent rage and allowing whiteness to assert its ownership over space that doesn’t belong to them, as in Idaho…and this feels like how it ends, with two dead at the hands of a whiteness that could not, would not, be contained.

The police welcomed Kyle Rittenhouse and his weapon of war to Kenosha. They gave him water and made him feel like one of them…the very thing he’d always wanted. Then he kills two people: the first because of a plastic bag apparently, the second because someone dared try to hold him accountable. That’s how fuckin’ fragile whiteness is: it can be sent into a murderous rage by a fuckin’ plastic bag.

Rachel: It’s truly impossible at this point to even pretend not to be aware of the obvious epidemic of radicalized, murderous young white men. The pattern is literally always the same: indoctrinated in extremist, violent communities on the internet linked to white supremacist, conspiracy theory and/or incel movements (the overlap between which is not coincidental!); usually early signs of intimate violence enacted against women in their personal lives, and culminating in a violent public outburst with a high-powered weapon, generally including a callout or public claiming of their extremist online communities, which then galvanizes those communities all over again, heightening and perpetuating the cycle. This is undeniable; it has happened constantly for… decades? now, from the École Polytechnique massacre to Elliot Rodger to the recent shootings in Hanau to Kyle Rittenhouse. The list goes on.

It’s not mysterious or even difficult to figure out how to address; police recently identified a protester through a blurry photograph of a t-shirt that they tracked the Etsy purchase of. Simply put, if they wanted to identify and monitor the people who are causing this, they absolutely could; they have chosen not to. These shootings keep continuing because their victims are women (often sex workers), Black people, and immigrants: people whose lives the state doesn’t care enough to try to protect, in the most generous reading. Before he started shooting, police in Kenosha welcomed the militia Rittenhouse was a part of, offering him a bottle of water; he was arrested in his home state of Illinois, after returning home freely, not at the scene where he murdered two people. Do we think it’s somehow just an unfortunate accident these attacks keep happening?

Himani: I agree with everything Rachel has said above. I also want to add this angle: America is so utterly hypocritical in how it thinks about “terrorism.” Message boards with white supremacists explicitly talking about harming civilians and elected officials? No problem, the FBI doesn’t care. Brown person taking a picture of a bridge? Quite possibly a terrorist, law enforcement better go check that out. (This did actually happen to someone I know in the wake of 9/11.) It’s just… I honestly don’t have words. Every time someone tries to make an argument that none of these things are about race, I really don’t have the patience any more. Everything. Every damned single thing in this country is about race and proximity to whiteness. That’s all it comes down to.

And what’s also disheartening is in the same breath we talk about how the future lies in the hands of Gen Z, we have indoctrinated young white supremacists of the Millennial and Gen Z age. We saw this in Charleston, and we saw this in Charlottesville, and we see this again now in Kenosha. So, what exactly is the future we have to hope for?

Facebook chose not to act on militia complaints before Kenosha shooting

Natalie: Facebook has already shown itself to be a threat to democracy and now it has blood on its hands.

Himani: Isn’t it amazing how Facebook just blocked Thai protest groups under pressure from the monarchy, and yet somehow white supremacists inciting violence in America fly under its radar — even after being tagged as violating Facebook policies?

US Election 2020 Update

We Now Know How Much Trump’s Postmaster General Slowed Down the Mail

Two women say they didn’t know their naturalization ceremony would be used at GOP convention

Natalie: Of course they didn’t ask…of course they didn’t.

Himani: The really fucked up thing about this is that even if they had asked, what could any of these people have said? Who is going to pass up a naturalization ceremony when greencards and visas have been basically ground to a halt.

And speaking of the RNC:

Natalie: It is amazing the sheer number of lies one man can fit into an hour-long speech. Both Rachel Maddow on MSNBC and Daniel Dale on CNN exhausted themselves addressing just a small portion of them.

Earlier this week, the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, suggested that Joe Biden not debate the pathological president ahead of November’s election. She said, “I do not think that the president of the United States has comported himself in a way that anybody has any association with truth, evidence, data and facts.”

After Trump’s display last night, it’s hard to argue that she’s not right.

Voting Is Broken. It’s the Only Way Out.

Why We’re Voting

Himani: With so much broken in the world, with so much broken in America specifically, with a primary election that was so disappointing to so many people, it is so easy to feel hopeless. I understand that, really I do. These five LGBTQ+ activists have no illusions about the choices before us: the man currently in office who openly supports white supremacists and the man who is stuck on the idea that “there are a few bad apples.” But they also have no illusions about which of these two men can actually be held accountable and which of these two administrations is more dangerous.

There’s so much that can be said and that will be said about this election. But this roundtable is definitely a powerful read.

And Other Things That Are Not Looking So Hot

Mexico’s Government Can’t Find 70,000 Missing People

Tortures and Enforced Disappearances: The Bloody History of Bangladesh’s Elite Paramilitary Force

Beirut’s devastating blast has not shaken the ruling class’s grip on Lebanon

Himani: It’s so disheartening to watch these moments unfold, where it seems like in the face of great tragedy, much needed change may finally be coming and then… the powerful and wealthy continue to grasp onto their power and their wealth.

It may seem Putin controls the Russian state personally. The reality is more dangerous

Himani: Sometimes it’s easier to believe that there’s one strong man, and if he (almost always he) were just removed from power the world would be a better place. But this grim article is a reminder that reality is much more complicated, cruel and difficult to unseat.

USCIS makes it official. They will ignore SCOTUS ruling and, “will reject all initial DACA requests.”

Himani: In another bit of news that did not really make headlines: back in July, USCIS indicated they would ignore the SCOTUS ruling. Now they have made that a matter of official policy.

Hurricane Laura was already a deadly storm before it reached the US

The US is in a water crisis far worse than most people imagine

Himani: I’ve been thinking about water a lot the past few years. It’s becoming a scarcer and scarcer resource. And while that is abundantly clear when you read about places like India it’s also true in the West and so-called “Global North.”

COVID-19 Update

CDC was pressured ‘from the top down’ to change coronavirus testing guidance, official says

Emails show businesses held sway over state reopening plans

I work as a medic in Syria, where an unreported Covid-19 crisis is unfolding

Xinjiang residents handcuffed to their homes in Covid lockdown

COVID Has Caused Extra Harm for Guatemala’s Victims of Gendered Violence

How Young Women Journalists Helped to Fight COVID-19 in Rwanda

Making it Easier to Secure Nonbiological Parents’ Rights: Take Action in 3 States

Making it Easier to Secure Nonbiological Parents' Rights: Take Action

Yes, even in Massachusetts, which led the nation in marriage equality, married same-sex couples who use assisted reproduction still need to do lengthy, expensive, and intrusive second-parent adoptions in order for their children to have ironclad legal ties to both parents. A new bill would greatly simplify the process. Bills in New Hampshire and Rhode Island would also streamline the recognition of nonbiological parents—but they all need your support.Crib

It’s true that married same-sex couples who use assisted reproduction in any state may now put both parents’ names on their children’s birth certificates—the U.S. Supreme Court said so. (Indiana wants to change that, but that’s another post.) Birth certificates do not have the legal weight of an adoption or court order of parentage, however, especially across state and national boundaries. Every major LGBTQ legal organization has long advised the nonbiological or nongestational member of such couples to get second-parent adoptions or parentage orders.

Second-parent adoptions (or “confirmatory adoptions,” in newer parlance) in Massachusetts (and most other states), however, cost money (usually two to three thousand dollars) and require an intrusive home study, a court appearance, a background check, a notice to the Department of Children and Families (DCF), a missing children’s register search, and a minimum residency period. Whew. The process cannot be started until the child is born, and then usually take several months, leaving the child vulnerable should something happen to the biological or gestational parent.

Bills currently in the Massachusetts Legislature, H.1485 in the House and the identical S.1013 in the Senate, would remove all of the above burdens and merely require same-sex couples, married or not, to submit some paperwork in order to do a second-parent adoption—no lawyer, court appearance, home study, or any of the other stuff needed. Not only is this easier on the couples, but it reduces the burden on DCF and the courts, thus also reducing the cost to the state. The bills have been voted out of committee; they now need to come to a vote on the floor.

Sarah Prager, a Massachusetts mom (and the author of two great books on LGBTQ history), shared with me her personal experience and why she believes this legislation is so important:

After you’ve wanted to have this child together, figured out conception together, been there through the pregnancy and delivery, cut the cord, been up in the middle of the night, and every single other thing a parent does when their child comes from one of the people in a marriage’s body, adopting that child feels like an insult, as if the child were not already yours. The fact that we have to do it at all is a problem, but as long as we don’t have a biological connection we do have to protect ourselves. The least the state can do is make that process less painful for us by not requiring humiliating home visits, court appearances that require time off of work, or invasive questionnaires. This bill would change the current process to just a few simple, clear forms to be mailed in, which would help families like ours immensely.

My own experience supports this. My spouse and I lived in New Jersey when we started our family via reciprocal IVF (my egg, her womb) nearly two decades ago. I would have had to adopt my own genetic son, but we worked with a lawyer to petition the court for a pre-birth order of parentage. We still had to pay the lawyer and make a court appearance, but we were both legal parents from the moment of birth and avoided both the home study and the absurdity of me having to adopt a child who carries my DNA. Now we live in Massachusetts, and I’m committed to helping improve the process here as well, especially since the state has had second-parent adoptions since 1993. It’s about damn time the process caught up with the reality of our families.

The New Hampshire Legislature also recently passed similar legislation, which provides a simplified second-parent adoption process (and also expands it to include unmarried parents). It awaits Gov. Chris Sununu’s (R) signature; GLAD is urging people to contact him about this.

Simplified processes for recognizing nonbiological/nongestational parents are a growing trend. California has had such a process since 2015 and New Jersey enacted similar legislation earlier this year. Several other states have also enacted slightly different methods for quickly and easily securing a nonbiological/nongestational parent’s rights—California, Vermont, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, and Washington State now offer simple, free Voluntary Acknowledgment of Parentage (VAP) forms that can be filled out at the hospital. (See my longer post about them.) Massachusetts offers these as well, but only for unmarried couples (though another bill now in committee, H. 139, would expand them to married couples).

Legislation pending in Rhode Island could mean VAPs there as well; the Rhode Island Uniform Parentage Act, H7541, includes them among several updates to parenting laws in the state. It was voted out of the House Judiciary Committee last week and will get floor votes in both Houses on July 16.

If you live in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, or Rhode Island, now is the time to take action.

  • In Massachusetts, call or e-mail your state senators and representatives immediately (the legislative session ends July 31) and ask them to support passage of H.1485 and S.1013. Also call Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D; 617.722.1500) and Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo (D; 617.722.2500). If you have a compelling personal story, by all means share it. GLAD and MassEquality in a webinar on July 10 also suggested emphasizing increased efficiency (less clogging of the courts; less burden on DCF) and reduced costs—practical considerations that may sway lawmakers. A few other talking points are on this Fact Sheet from GLAD (pdf).
  • In New Hampshire, call Governor Sununu’s office at 603.271.2121 and ask him to sign HB1162.
  • In Rhode Island, call or e-mail your representatives and senators this week, before the vote on Thursday, and ask them to support the Rhode Island Uniform Parentage Act, H7541. Find a sample letter here.

If you don’t live in these states but have friends or family there, please pass on this information. Follow GLAD Legal Advocates and Defenders for updates on this and other legislation in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and other New England states.

Thanks to Patience Crozier, GLAD senior staff attorney, for providing me with some background for this piece.