GLAAD @ Work: LeAnn Rimes, Marriage in Australia, and more

Wonder what we're up to at GLAAD? Be sure to check out GLAAD's Newsroom each week for updates about our latest work to build support for LGBT equality through news, entertainment and online media.

Australian couples get anniversary wishes for #5DaysOfEquality

GLAAD launched #5DaysOfEquality to celebrate the one year anniversary of 31 Australian couples who were married during December 7-12, 2013. Their marriages were later nullified by the Australian government. GLAAD is asking people to post on social media using the hashtag #5DaysOfEquality. The messages will be transcribed into paper cards and delivered to the couples. "For the 31 couples in Australia whose marriages were robbed from them, we want them to know that there are many people across the globe who recognize and celebrate their love and commitment," said GLAAD CEO and President, Sarah Kate Ellis. GLAAD's work with Australia is part of the GLAAD Global Voices initiative, which further emphasizes the need for worldwide solidarity and equality. There is still time to participate! Read more here.

Matthew Shepard documentary wins big in Russia
The film, Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine, won the audience award at the Side by Side International LGBT Film Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia. The film makers, Michele Josue and Liam McNiff, traveled to Russia with Dennis and Judy Shepard, who, in addition to attending the screening and speaking to the crowd at the film festival, met with Russian parents of LGBT children in Moscow. GLAAD helped to prepare the Shepards and film makers for the travel, connected them with media outlets, and shared images from the trip. GLAAD interviewed the Shepards and film makers before they went to Russia about their plans to meet with Russian parents and their review of the intimate documentary. The story was picked up by outlets including The Associated Press, The Hollywood Reporter, Pink News, and Queerty. Read more here.

LGBT organizations issue open letter in response to recent protests
The National LGBTQ Task Force, in coalition with other national LGBT organizations, issued an open letter entitled "An Open Letter: From Ferguson to True Freedom." The letter was in response to the growing media coverage and protests related to the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO and the murder of Eric Garner in Staten Island, NY. "As LGBTQ national organizations, we proudly stand in solidarity with the civil rights organizations and local activists — including the actions of an amazing, fierce, brilliant cadre of youth leaders, many of whom are queer identified — in demanding fundamental systemic change that tackles the root causes of racial and economic injustices once and for all," the letter said as it urged readers to participate in peaceful protests and create personal forms of action. Read the letter here.  

MSNBC publishes honest and intimate interview with Kristene Chapa
With GLAAD's help, MSNBC premiered an online original segment to catch up with Kristene, her advocates, and community members—known to her friends as Kris—about her intensive physical therapies, the aftermath of the brutal attack, coming out to her family, and the ways in which Kris continues to inspire her community and young LGBT people throughout Texas and beyond. GLAAD helped numerous people interviewed in the segment prepare to effectively share Kristene's story. GLAAD continues to work closely with Kristene to focus the nation's attention on the young woman's story as an LGBT survivor of color, rampant violence against LGBT people, hate crimes, and the experiences of LGBT people in the south. Read more here.

LeAnn Rimes tells GLAAD about her support for Ty Herndon, Billy Gilman, and all LGBT people
GLAAD's Video & News Strategist, Claire Pires, interviewed recording artist LeAnn Rimes for GLAAD's video series, GLAAD: All Access, which features interviews with newsmakers, hit-makers, and people making a difference. Rimes discussed her new EP, "One Christmas-Chapter One," her support when fellow country singers Ty Herndon and Billy Gilman recently came out, and why she supports the LGBT community. "Ty waited for a very long time in his life and Billy actually has a chance at having a full life as an out, gay man," Rimes said. She then added, "People should be able to love who they love -- it's as simple as that." The interview was picked up by Huffington Post Gay Voices, Bustle, and Advocate. Watch the interview here.

Accurate transgender coverage in the media
GLAAD's Director of Spanish-Language Media, Monica Trasandes, met with Florida transgender advocate Arianna Lint to prepare for an interview to discuss the recent human rights ordinance that was passed in Miami that includes non-discrimination protection for gender identity and expression. GLAAD also worked with a Los Angeles reporter for Univision who was doing a story on the murder of a young transgender woman, Deshawnda Sanchez, in order to assure Deshawnda's story was told respectfully and accurately. GLAAD's communication with both sides of the interviews ensured that pronouns, representations, and ordinances were explained in an accurate light.

GLAAD reflects on World AIDS Day
Last week, numerous organizations participated in World AIDS Day to honor all those affected by HIV/AIDS and the White House held a day of observance. GLAAD's Vice President of Programs, Zeke Stokes, attended the event and wrote his reaction in a piece for Huffington Post Gay Voices. The piece highlights the need for Americans to pay attention to this crisis, the need for healthcare via the Affordable Care Act, the stark reality that there are 50,000 new HIV infections in the U.S. each year that often get transferred unknowingly, and GLAAD's focus in its upcoming thirtieth year on HIV/AIDS. "It's time for the LGBT community to once again rally around those of us most severely impacted by this crisis - the transgender community, our youth, and people of color," Stokes writes. Read the piece here.

GLAAD staff joins Columbia panel on advocacy and journalism
GLAAD's Video & News Strategist, Claire Pires, spoke on a panel entitled "Telling LGBTQ Stories" at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, from which she graduated. Pires was a featured panelist with Curtis M. Wong, deputy editor of Huffington Post Gay Voices; Luke Malone, culture reporter for Vocativ; and Caitlin Shure, journalist and Ph.D. student. When asked about the importance of LGBT-specific news outlets, Pires explained the need to cover the community and the ongoing movement for LGBT equality. The panel highlighted the intersections of advocacy and journalism, and provided the future journalists in the room with a new perspective on how to effectively cover LGBT issues, as well as how to keep the media accountable for quality coverage.

North Carolina outlet misgenders missing transgender woman
GLAAD reached out to local media in North Carolina regarding coverage of a transgender woman, Elisha Walker, who is missing from Rowan County. Several reports are still misgendering Elisha, despite her self-identification as female on Facebook. GLAAD is continuing to contact media outlets to correct coverage. If you see problematic coverage of this story, please report it to GLAAD.

Taking in homeless LGBT youth for a living
GLAAD's Video & News Strategist, Claire Pires, interviewed Rick Westbrook, co-founder and executive director of Lost-n-Found Youth, an Atlanta-based non-profit organization that takes in LGBT homeless youth off the street and transitions them into permanent housing. The interview was for GLAAD's video series, GLAAD: All Access. "Our youth need not to suffer just because of who they love," said Westbrook as he went through how the organization helps the youth find housing, jobs, and care. This interview is also part of GLAAD Southern Stories, which aims to tell the stories of LGBT people and their allies in the American South. Watch the interview here.

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