Parents of LGBT children form a support group in Mumbai, India

MUMBAI, India — For the first time ever 10 parents of LGBTQ persons came together in Mumbai, India for a closed door parents’ support group workshop that aimed to share experiences and also chart out a future course of action.

Organized by Solaris Pictures, as part of its ongoing engagement with LGBT community and parents, for its upcoming feature film Evening Shadows directed by Sridhar Rangayan, the workshop was structured and moderated by social development consultants Alpana Dange and Pallav Patankar.

The main objective of the workshop was to develop strategies for a cohesive parents’ support group that would help each other, help other parents who may need information or peer-to-peer counseling, and also to be a visible group in the media and society.

“There have been parents support meets and acceptance meets in the past, organized by Gay Bombay and Yaariyan, but the parents have mostly been sharing their experiences in public. This was the first time ever they got to spend an entire day with each other, sharing and discussing in a structured formal manner. It was not only a great learning experience, but also a very definitive move towards forming an Indian PFLAG kind of group, first in Mumbai and maybe later in other cities”, said Sridhar Rangayan who has been wanting to make this happen for many years now, “Part of the funds we raised for the film Evening Shadows was kept aside to facilitate this meet”, he added.

Attended by 10 parents – mothers Chitra Palekar, Padma Iyer, Sarojini Dash, Nargis Wadia, Aruna Desai, Mangala Aher, Bharati Divgikar, Vidya Phadnis, and fathers Pradeep Divgikar and Ramesh Kathale – the day-long workshop was an eye-opener about the challenges faced by parents in coming to terms with their children’s gay, lesbian and transgender identities.

“This formal consultation is a start to many beginnings. My desire is to form an easily accessible group of parents who could assist other parents and children in the closet. Hopefully, one day, we will be able to build a shelter home for children who are forced to escape from their homes of birth. This would give all of us all a unique chance to become their foster parents”, said Padma Iyer, mother of activist Harrish Iyer.

“I think it’s an absolutely amazing initiative. We are simply hoping to create a network of families of LGBT individuals, so that we can work together and offer support to other such families and their children”, said Aruna Desai, a HR professional and mother of a gay son.

Dr. Sarojini Dash, the oldest parent in the group and someone who has been a great support to both LGBTQ children and parents for many years now, felt the parent’s meet was very useful for some parents whose children had recently come out and were anxious about their future. “They heard about those children who had done well in life, overcoming the stigmas and prejudices. Parent’s group made them realize that their fears were mere shadows without much substance”, said Dr.Dash who is also a psychiatrist.

Ramesh Kathale, father of Prachi Kathale, has been able to accept his lesbian daughter wholeheartedly, but finds it difficult to deal with relatives and neighbours who can sometimes be obtrusive and nasty. He said, “The workshop made me aware of experiences faced by other parents and has given me new courage”.

Mangala Aher, mother of transgender activist Abheena Aher felt that there should be more support forthcoming for transgender children, especially in terms of healthcare and livelihood opportunities. She has been a founder of the transgender dance troupe Dancing Queens and regularly performs with her transgender daughter and other transgender dancers.

The consultation focused on the why and how of forming a structured and functional parents’ support group. Speaking about her experience at the consultation, Chitra Palekar, one of the most vocal voices among the parents said, “We have shared our experiences informally at several events, but there was no real progress. This workshop, under the guidance of experienced facilitators, helped us gain clarity regarding the issues involved in this work.  The meet created a vision and took the first step towards forming an organization, which we all hope will cause a break-through in supporting LGBTQ children and their parents.”

“The formation of an organized Parents Group is the need of the hour. A vibrant and supportive parent group can provide the required cutting edge to galvanize more parents to join in the battle for the cherished rights of their marginalized and discriminated children. More power to this unique initiative!” said Pradeep Divgikar, father of singer Sushant Divgikar, who was also Mr.Gay India in 2015.

The meeting brought our various needs faced by parents of LGBTQ children and what are the resources needed to address them. Speaking about the process, facilitator Alpana Dange said, ‘’It was an enlightening experience to facilitate this workshop comprising moms and dads of LGBTQ children who have braved the world and have unconditionally supported their children. In this workshop, what I found most striking was their resolve to support not just their own children, but also help and support other LGBTQ children’s parents in coming to terms with their children’s sexuality and be their confidante and pillar of strength. They considered the meeting as a stepping-stone to help other parents in the city of Mumbai.’’

Echoing Dange’s sentiments, facilitator Pallav Patankar said, “Parents of LGBT people occupy an important space within the LGBT movement. The discrimination faced by LGBT people extends to the parents. Parents are allies, stakeholders and the strongest supporters in this fight for equality. In India, LGBT sons and daughters often continue living with their parents and involving parents’ participation in the movement becomes essential.”

Harrish Iyer concurred, “As a child, I have grappled with my struggle in letting my parents know about my truth and understand that a network of parents helping parents and LGBT children is a need of the hour. Bombay has been privy to other parents of LGBT events since the past two decades, and this  fantastic consultation, seeded by funds created by The Evening Shadows crowd funding campaign, will propel this initiative further towards being a strong group that helps other parents and their LGBTIQ children”

Speaking at the event, Karim Ladak, from Toronto, one of the executive producers of Evening Shadows, having contributed a substantial financial stake in the film said, “So much has changed for the LGBTQ community in India in the past two decades and this initiative is absolutely fantastic. The film and this support group will be the flagbearers for the future, inspiring greater acceptance of LGBTQ persons in society.

Short URL: http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=78119

‘Hang in there’: Labor MP Tim Watts tells LGBT youth that change is coming

Labor MP Tim Watts has told LGBT youth that change is coming and to “hang in there”.

Speaking in the House of Representatives, Watts took to the box to say the past two weeks have been “depressing”.

“After a particularly depressing fortnight spent debating the merits of the Safe Schools anti-homophobic bullying program in this place, I’d like to tell any young LGBTI Australians out there listening not to despair,” he said.

“Change is coming, painfully slowly I know, but hang in there,”

Watts speech comes after the Turnbull government ordered a review of the Safe Schools program that aims to stop bullying in schools based on sexual orientation.

Those that campaigned a review into the program include Senator Cory Bernardi, who said it was “about intimidating and bullying kids into conforming to what is the homosexual agenda”, but Watts said this is just wrong.

“Newsflash Cory – it’s a sexuality, not an ideology.”

It comes as Labor Senator Joe Bullock announced he will leave parliament over the party’s same-sex marriage policy.

Aged 60, Bullock made the announcement on Tuesday night, saying he had long been against same-sex marriage and could not remain a Labor parliamentarian, given that the party will remove its members’ ability to vote with their conscience on the issue in 2019.

“Instinctively I know if your job requires you to do [that] which you believe to be wrong, there’s only one course of action: resign,” he said.

“As a member of the party, I’m free to disagree with the party policy, to lobby for change, and to encourage people to join the party with a view to achieving that end,”

“As a Labor Senator, it’s my job to tell voters that it doesn’t matter that Labor will outlaw the conscience vote on homosexual marriage, and to recommend a vote for Labor without reservation.

“That’s the job description of a Labor Senator. It’s a job which I can’t do.”

Watts has also questioned why Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has not called out those that say homophobic statements.

“The PM owes it to the LGBTI kids around Australia to tell the dinosaurs of his backbench that they are wrong – and to do it now.”

Gay News Network AU

LGBT group raises funds to buy anti-gay church

LGBT advocacy groups are fundraising to purchase a New YorK City Church that was run by reverend David Manning, best known for proclaiming ‘Homos should be stoned’.

The Atlah Worldwide Church is set to be sold in a public auction this month following a court order. The Church is said to owe over $1million in unpaid taxes and bills.

Upon hearing of the sale, LGBT groups have set up a GoFundMe page in an attempt to buy the church to turn it into a support and respite centre for homeless LGBT young people.

Since setting up the page on Friday more than $118,000 has been pledged to the Ali Forney Center which is hoping to use the space to expand housing for LGBT youth.

“I think it would represent a real healing of a terrible wound that’s been in that neighbourhood,” said Carl Siciliano, founder and executive director of the Ali Forney Center.

The centre currently houses 107 homeless youth and has a drop-in area three blocks from Atlah. It offers mental health and medical services and provides over 50,000 meals to homeless LGBT youth annually.

Siciliano said that every night the centre turns away between 170 to 200 young people in need.

If the centre fails to raise enough funds to buy the building, it plans to use the monies raised to assist with homeless LGBT youth programs at other sites.

Former BP CEO, Lord Browne invests in Gay Star News

LGBTI Web site, Gay Star News announced today that former BP CEO Lord Browne of Madingley has become a shareholder in the business, taking a 12.5% stake.
Seven years after his resignation as CEO of BP, Lord Browne wrote The Glass Closet, a book about the acceptance and inclusion of LGBT people in business. He has since become a high profile advocate for greater openness in the corporate world.
Lord Browne said: ‘When I wrote The Glass Closet, I always hoped that it would grow into something more than just a book. Gay Star News provides the perfect platform for that growth.

‘I am looking forward to bringing the messages of The Glass Closet to a wider audience, supporting Gay Star News in its next phase of development, and improving the environment for LGBT people in business around the world.’

Tris Reid Smith, editor and co-founder of Gay Star News which is headquartered in London said: ‘I am immensely proud we have a business leader of the international standing of Lord Browne joining our team of shareholders.

‘This is a milestone in the development of Gay Star News – coming after a January in which we celebrated our third anniversary and saw over 5 million readers visit the site.

‘Lord Browne’s involvement will help us offer even more to readers, clients and stakeholders.’

Short URL: http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=56409

England’s first ever Top 50 LGBT executives in business announced

Marking a huge British milestone, Square Peg Media, the U.K.’s leading diversity and inclusion events company, has, in partnership with The Telegraph, compiled the Out at Work & Telegraph Top 50 LGBT Executives in Business list. “This celebrates individuals who are actively making a difference for LGBT people in business, paving the way for future generations by proving that being out at work doesn’t mean staying hidden or staying put,” declares Eilidh MacLeod in England’s The Telegraph.

The list hopes to establish a benchmark in England for years to come but makes pains to eschew the kind of publicity-driven announcement that, say, Tim Cook created when he came out as Apple’s new CEO. “It is fantastic that a chief executive of a major worldwide brand such as Apple intends to use his new-found role as an LGBT figure to challenge future inequality. But he is not the first openly gay business leader, and unless he works tirelessly for the next 20 years he certainly won’t be the one who has made the most impact,” writes Macleod.

What sets this list apart from the myriad Top-50 lists that recognize workplace diversity is that it was open to anyone from the business community, regardless of their station. Thousands of entrants submitted their names. Founding partners, Barclays, Google and Société Générale, were carefully chosen for the part they have played in contributing to workplace equality by supporting LGBT events, companies, employee groups and rights.

According to The Telegraph: “Each nominee was considered against select criteria and narrowed down to a shortlist of 50 executives. This was then presented to a judging advisory board of nine leading figures from the worlds of politics and business. Chairing the board was Linda Riley, member of the board of directors at Glaad, patron of the Albert Kennedy Trust and founder of the European Diversity Awards and Out with the Family. The list includes CEOs, CFOs, Senior HRs and a multitude of titles and companies including Nike, BSkyB and KPMG.

Short URL: http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=55491

LiMandri email: DeMaio promised, LGBT not a priority

San Diego CityBeat reported yesterday that it had received a copy of an email in which a prominent supporter of City Councilman Carl DeMaio’s mayoral campaign says DeMaio “ … specifically promised me, as a condition of my support, that he would not push the gay agenda issues (including same-sex marriage) as did Mayor Sanders. Rather, he was emphatic with me that he did not believe that the mayor should concern himself with these issues as they are not his responsibility.”

Charles LiMandri, the purported author of the email, is an infamous figure in San Diego’s LGBT, progressive and allied communities. He was the attorney who brought the case against the San Diego Fire Department for “forcing” firefighters to march in the LGBT Pride parade. More importantly to many, LiMandri was the attorney for the anti-LGBT, National Organization for Marriage during the Proposition 8 fight.

San Diego LGBT Weekly has been reporting for several months about the fact that DeMaio has garnered and boasted of endorsements from numerous anti-LGBT equality activists and major financial backers of 2008’s Proposition 8, which outlawed same-sex marriage in California.

The list of donors and endorsers includes powerful right-wingers, such as local storage-industry multi-millionaire, Brian Caster, and former San Diego mayor and talk-radio host, Roger Hedgecock, as well as former judge Larry Stirling.

The LiMandri email was sent to anti-LGBT activist and “ex-gay,” Jim Hartline. In what may be the ultimate irony, Hartline turned over the email exchange to CityBeat because he felt LiMandri was undermining the conservative agenda by supporting DeMaio.

San Diego LGBT Weekly publisher, Stampp Corbin postulated in his Message from our Publisher entitled “Carl DeMaio: Selling his Soul in the Mayoral Race,” (March 15, Issue 69) that DeMaio sold out the LGBT community to get donations and endorsements from anti-LGBT advocates. Corbin believes this latest news confirms his earlier assertion.

“Is this what our community expects from our potential LGBT mayor?” Corbin asks. “Our issues will not be a part of his administration because it is not the responsibility of a mayor? New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsome, former District of Columbia Mayor Adrian Fenty and our current mayor in San Diego would disagree. Each of them advanced LGBT rights during their administrations.”

In fact, hundreds of U.S. mayors disagree with DeMaio, having become part of the Mayors for the Freedom to Marry, a group led in part by Mayor Jerry Sanders.

Leaders in the LGBT community, such as Corbin worry that, ironically, electing Carl DeMaio mayor could send the clock backward for local LGBTs.

“As the eighth largest city in America, should San Diego expect the same advocacy from our leader as is enjoyed by cities from Ft. Lauderdale to Tacoma, Washington; Hallowell, Maine to Los Angeles?” asks Corbin. “DeMaio needs to tell our community that LiMandri is a liar or that he made this deal for a $500 donation. Our community deserves answers before primary election day, June 5.”

Neither Charles LiMandri nor Carl DeMaio responded to requests for comment.

Short URL: http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=24819