A Civil Rights Hero and An 'Ex-Gay' Walk Into DC...

8.8.2013

By Out.com Editors

...And 5 Other Things You Need To Know Today

1. President Obama announced the Presidential Medal of Freedom honorees, and among them are two LGBT icons. One is Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, and the other is Bayard Rustin, Martin Luther King Jr's most trusted adviser and the main organizer of the iconic 1963 March held on Washington fifty years ago this month. The Medal of Freedom is given to men and women who have made a "meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."

Rustin, pictured at right with James Baldwin, certainly fits the bill. “Bayard Rustin’s contributions to the American civil rights movement remain paramount to its successes to this day," said HRC's Chad Griffin, who personally petitioned the president to honor Rustin. "His role in the fight for civil rights of African-Americans is all the more admirable because he made it as a gay man, experiencing prejudice not just because of his race, but because of his sexual orientation as well.”

Meanwhile, in an ironic twist, it was announced today that self-described "ex-gay" preacher Donnie McClurkin, a man who claims God cleansed him of sinful homosexuality and who goes against everything Rustin and MLK believed, will perform at an event being held at Dr. King's memorial in DC later this month. The occasion? The launch a two week celebration of the March Rustin proved so instrumental in creating.

2. Nancy Mace, a Tea Party activist hoping to unseat North Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, appears to be joining in the recurring chorus of people who wonder whether anti-gay Republican Graham's secretly gay.

3 Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko wants to press to "calm down" about his country's anti-gay laws. He claims Russians have a right to a "private life" and that their laws "[are] not intended to deprive people of any religion, race or sexual orientation but to ban the promotion of non-traditional relations among the young generation." But he also again warned that Olympic athletes visiting Sochi in 2014 need to follow Russia's anti-gay rules. "All the athletes and organizations should be relaxed, their rights will be protected...but of course you have to respect the laws of the country you are in," he said, according to Reuters.

4. Some experts worry that the United Nations's "Free & Equal" campaign to stop homophobia may make matters worse in places like Russia and even South Africa. From Rolling Stone's report: "The worst example of this disconnect from law and practice is South Africa – the first country in the world to guarantee equality based on sexual orientation, but a country where people are raped to try to force them into heterosexuality."

5. The Board of Governors for the University of North Carolina seems poised to ban gender neutral housing, a decision that will make matters worse for LGBT students, particularly those undergoing a gender transition.

6. Here's the trailer for the new biopic about legendary rock and roll venue CBGB. The movie stars Malin Ackerman as Debbie Harry, Mickey Sumner as Patti Smith, and Kyle Gallner as Lou Reed.

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