GLAAD @ Work: Southern Stories Summer Tour, SCOTUS, John Oliver, and more

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GLAAD embarks on tour to accelerate acceptance in the US South

During GLAAD's Southern Stories Summer Tour, GLAAD visited Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, South Carolina, and Georgia over eight days to meet local advocates and discuss pertinent issues surrounding the LGBT community in the South. In Tennessee, for the first time in the history of CMA Fest, artists and celebrities came together to support LGBT acceptance at the inaugural Concert for Love and Acceptance presented by Ty Herndon and GLAAD. In Alabama, GLAAD participated in the Birmingham AIDS Outreach Poker Run on Smith Lake, Alabama, and met with local LGBT leaders. In Mississippi, GLAAD hosted a screening and panel for the documentary "L Word Mississippi: Hate the Sin," which earned the 2015 GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Documentary. In Jackson, Ross Murray, GLAAD's Director of Programs: Global & U.S. South, gave the sermon at the St. Alexis Episcopal Church to emphasize that religion and LGBT issues can work in tandem. In Florida, GLAAD met with active and reserve duty LGBT military families. In South Carolina, GLAAD hosted a screening and panel for the film "GLAAD Presents: State of Change – South Carolina." And in Georgia, GLAAD hosted a screening and panel for the film "GLAAD Presents: State of Change – Georgia." These documentaries are the first two in a series of six films that will share the experiences of, and accelerate acceptance for, LGBT people and communities across the U.S. South, and both films were filmed in house by GLAAD. While in Georgia, GLAAD also attended the Reconciling Ministries Network Worship Service at the Oconee Street United Methodist Church in Athens, Georgia, held a talk-back for "bare: a pop opera" in Newnan, Georgia, presented a screening and panel for the film "Blackbird" about an African American gay teenager who struggles to be accepted by his Southern Baptist community, and held a youth event at Lost-n-Found Youth, which provides services for homeless LGBT youth. YouTuber Raymond Braun also uploaded a video of his experience embedded with the Southern Stories Summer Tour. With the tour behind us, GLAAD continues to publish and amplify stories about LGBT people and allies in the U.S. South, including a recent interview with actor Julian Walker, the star of "Blackbird." 

Why the South?  Why now? In late 2014, GLAAD commissioned a Harris Poll of over 2,000 adult (18+) Americans to examine the state of LGBT acceptance. In conjunction with its Southern Stories Summer Tour, GLAAD released the numbers from Deep South states. Those numbers show that in the South, levels of LGBT acceptance are lower than the rest of the nation. Southerners polling results demonstrated more discomfort than the national average, with increases of 5 to 6 percent across the board. GLAAD's Southern Stories Summer Tour was produced with support from Major Partner, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, and Official Partner, Honey Maid. 

GLAAD release two original mini-documentaries focused on LGBT life in the South
During the Southern Stories Summer Tour, GLAAD released the first two in a series of six original short films that will share the experiences of, and accelerate acceptance for, LGBT people and communities across the U.S. South. The Huffington Post exclusively debuted, "GLAAD Presents: State of Change -- South Carolina," which features interviews with LGBT people and allies who talk about their personal experiences concerning marriage, faith, and workplace discrimination. Out exclusively debuted "GLAAD Presents: State of Change -- Georgia," which features interviews with LGBT people and allies who talk about the intersection of African American and LGBT issues, homeless LGBT youth, and transgender issues in the Peach State. The short films were produced and directed by GLAAD's Claire Pires as part of GLAAD's Southern Stories program. Watch the South Carolina documentary here and the Georgia documentary here.

GLAAD responds to SCOTUS marriage equality ruling
GLAAD responded to the United States Supreme Court's historic ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges. In a 5 to 4 ruling, the Court determined that the Constitution guarantees every American the right to marry the person they love. Said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis, "Love prevailed and our nation became a more perfect union.” Claire Pires, host of GLAAD: All Access, went to the historic Stonewall Inn to capture people's first reactions in the first twenty minutes after marriage equality became legal. Read Sarah Kate's full response here and watch Claire's video here.  After the historic decision on marriage equality, many outlets noted GLAAD's reaction, including The AdvocateThe Daily BeastThe Denver ChannelE! NewseNews Park ForestInternational Business TimesKITV-HONNational Catholic ReporterNBC NewsNew England Cable News TodayPR WeekWOAY-TV, and Yahoo Politics

GLAAD's Spanish-language team responds to SCOTUS marriage equaity ruling
GLAAD's Monica Trasandes and Janet Quezada appeared on various radio and television news programs to discuss the impact of the Supreme Court to affirm the fundamental and constitutional right to marry for same-sex couples. They were able to reach not just to the domestic Spanish-language audience but the global viewers of CNN en Español where Trasandes appeared as the court decisión was breaking. The team also connected Atlanta-based reporters GLAAD met during the Southern Stories Summer Tour to local LGBT Latino/a advocates to speak on CNN en Español. Quezada was a guest on the show Realidades en Contexto to talk about LGBT and allied people of faith who disagree with the US Catholic leadership's negative opinion of the Supreme Court decision. Trasandes also appeared on NTN, the Colombian news service that is seen throughout the region and also in the United States. The team also worked with producers throughout the United States for televisión and news programs by connecting them with Latino/a LGBT couples and legal experts, including producers form Blu Radio in Colombia.

GLAAD looks at media's role in gaining marriage equality
GLAAD's Matt Kane was interviewed by several outlets on how TV and film have helped shape public opinion of LGBT people over the years, leading up to the historic SCOTUS decision affirming marriage equality for same-sex couples. Among those outlets to quote Kane were The New York Daily News,  NPRThe Los Angeles Times, and Daily Kos. Variety also quoted Kane and Sarah Kate Ellis in a story about Hollywood films' failure to depict LGBT people, and in another story about how unscripted and reality television have been an important leader in depicting the transgender community. 

The future of the LGBT equality movement
Sarah Kate Ellis spoke at the iconic National Press Club about the future of the LGBT rights movement in context of the Supreme Court case Obergefell v. Hodges. The event was broadcast live on C-Span 2 for a full hour and CSPAN Radio. Washington Blade also reported on the event, highlighting Ellis' remarks on accelerating acceptance and GLAAD's Southern Stories Summer Tour.

GLAAD works with "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver" on a segment about anti-trans discrimination
On his HBO show "Last Week Tonight," John Oliver spoke at length about the discrimination facing transgender people across many areas of life. While researching the piece, the show's staff reached out to GLAAD and other organizations to find accurate information on the issues affecting the transgender community. The segment covered a wide range of issues, from the fact that trans people cannot serve openly in the military, to discrimination in public accommodations, to the disproportionately high rates of unemployment affecting transgender people, and a general lack of respect and understanding, among many others. Read more here.

GLAAD works with La Opinion to highlight Latino transgender fathers
GLAAD's Monica Trasandes and Janet Quezada worked with reporter Virginia Gaglianone from La Opinion, the nation's largest Spanish-language newspaper, on a Father's Day piece featuring two families with transgender dads. The piece highlighted the love that Sebastian Colon-Otero and Trystan Reese, both transgender men and fathers, have for their children and each other. Said Colon-Otero, "Being a father has been the greatest experience of my life." The full piece can be read online in Spanish here.

GLAAD's Nick Adams attends White House Pride Reception 
On Wednesday, June 24, 2015, Nick Adams, GLAAD's Director of Programs for Transgender Media, represented GLAAD at the LGBT Pride Month Reception at the White House. Adams works with Senior Media Strategist Dani Heffernan to lead GLAAD's longstanding work to increase the quantity and quality of transgender representation in news, entertainment, and digital media. Adams, a transgender man, joined GLAAD's staff in 1998 and in his 17 years at GLAAD, he has significantly contributed to the organization’s ongoing commitment to transgender visibility. Currently he is working with E! as they craft a docu-series with Caitlyn Jenner, TLC as they prepare to launch "I Am Jazz" about teen trans advocate Jazz Jennings, and "The Bold and the Beautiful" as they continue to tell the story of Maya Avant, the trans lead character on the show. Read more here.

How to be a good ally at Pride: GLAAD weighs in
GLAAD's Alexandra Bolles recently spoke with Mic, the prominent online outlet covering substantive news for young adults, about what it means to be a good ally during Pride Month. Mic's Identities section featured her in an article called, "The Straight Allies Guide to LGBT Pride." The article explained the importance of Pride celebrations, giving historical context and advice to the allies who attend. Read more here.

Spanish-language media director interviewed on Cafe CNN in Atlanta
GLAAD's Monica Trasandes participated in an interview at CNN en Español on their local Atlanta-based show Café CNN as part of GLAAD's Southern Stories Summer Tour. Trasandes presented the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Television Journalism Segment to host Carlos Montero for a segment about a transgender Colombian woman named Eliana Rubashkyn that aired last year and spoke on camera about Latino/a LGBT issues. Read more here.

Same-sex couples from China married in West Hollywood
Seven same-sex couples travelled from China, where the government does not recognize marriage equality, to a destination wedding in West Hollywood, a hub for LA's LGBT community. The winners were selected through an online video contest hosted by one of the world's largest e-commerce companies, Alibaba, which is based in China. More than 400 entries explaining why each couple should be chosen were submitted. GLAAD worked with the organizers and couples, sharing photos of the couples getting ready, getting married, and doing some interviews at the event. The trip has been covered in both English and Chinese outlets, including the LA TimesReutersBBCAl Jazeera, World Journal, The AdvocateChina DailyFrontiers Media, and Jing Daily. Click here to view photos of the ceremony.

The WWE stands up for the LGBT community
World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. and its superstars are participating in GLAAD's #GotYourBack campaign, which provides a space for LGBT people and allies to show their support for the LGBT community. The #GotYourBack campaign seeks to build acceptance by encouraging LGBT allies to speak out and show the world the importance of LGBT acceptance. Check out the social media presence of WWE's #GotYourBack pledge here.

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