Tom celebration marks 100 years

Tom of Finland Foundation has announced its 25th Art & Culture Festival: Plugged In will be held from Dec. 11-13. This year’s Festival will be hosted on a custom website. This year also marks the 36th anniversary of Tom of Finland Foundation, founded by Tom of Finland and Durk Dehner. This digital event aims to support artists by providing them with an avenue to present and sell their works. Artist “booths” will be featured and virtual events will take place throughout the weekend including panel discussions, DJ sets, spoken word presentations, as well as announcements for emerging art competition winners and foundation recipients. Attendees can connect with artists, see performances, watch video installations, draw, and listen to panel discussions. Most of the three-day event is free and open to the public. Donations to the foundation are being accepted and members get early access.

Soulforce names new board members

The Board of Directors for Soulforce has announced that it has welcomed three new faces to their organization. They are Cole Parke of Durham, N.C.; Carol Lautier of Washington, D.C.; and Rev. Rhina Ramos of Oakland, Calif. Parke is a queer, non-binary transgender individual who began their activist work as a member of a 2008 Equality Ride bus tour, as well as in 2012. Other work that Parke has been involved in includes being a statewide organizer for Carolina Jews for Justice and serving as a research analyst at Political Research Associates. Lautier, an ordained minister, is associate director at Demos and has managed the Inclusive Democracy Project, faith fellow at the National LGBTQ Task Force, among other roles. She received her B.A. at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ravos leads Ministerio Latino and has been a lawyer, community organizer and more.

Brief filed for military sexual violence survivors

The Modern Military Association of America, along with 19 other organizations, filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court to seek relief for military survivors of sexual violence. In Jane Doe v. United States, court is being urged to take up the case and fix a decades-old, judicially-created doctrine that prevents service members — unlike their civilian counterparts — from seeking damages from the federal government for harm caused by government actors. Under the doctrine, victims have virtually no judicial recourse when their assailants are other service members.

Org names fund beneficiaries

On World AIDS Day, the Crape Myrtle Festival has announced the 2020 recipient beneficiaries of the organization’s annual funds awards. They are: A Place Called Home, $1,195; CAARE the Healing Center, $3,000; Carolina CARE Partnership, $5,000; Loving Food Resources, $2,500; NC AIDS Action Network, $7,500; RAIN, $3,000; Triangle Empowerment Center, Inc., $2,500; El Centro Hispano, $6,000; LILA, $1,700; and Gays for Good, $1,000.

Trans murder victim honored

The National Black Justice Coalition has reported that Skylar Heath, a 20-year-old Black transgender woman, was murdered in Miami, Fla. on Nov. 4. With Health’s death, the national total has now reached 46 individuals who have succumbed to violence. The coalition’s executive director David J. Johns shared, “More than half of the victims (61 percent) are Black trans women, 85 percent are trans women of any race, and more than half are under the age of 30. We know that a key issue is stigma and shame around gender, sex, and sexuality.” Another Black transgender woman, Chae’Meshia Simms, was found dead in her car in Richmond, Va., the apparent victim of a gunshot wound, LGBTQ Nation reported.

Photography partnership forged

Getty Images announced an exclusive partnership with GLAAD working together to challenge “harmful and cliched visual stereotypes” of the LGBTQ community, through the launch of their first collaborative effort, a set of guidelines aimed at improving the visual representation of the transgender community. As part of a broader commitment, this new partnership encourages the creation of authentic, diverse imagery and videography, aiming to empower the media and advertising industries to choose visuals which authentically represent the LGBTQ community,” the parties said. The Getty Images and GLAAD Transgender Guidelines include accurate terminology for use in tagging and captions, clichés to avoid, as well as ways to create a safe, welcoming set.

Org welcomes new leadership

Heats Beat as One Foundation has announced new leadership roles for the philanthropic organization. Names are: Chad Turner, director of communications; Kimberly Brent, board member; Leah Graham, board member; Holly Newton, United for Animals chair; and Nate Turner, food pantry chair. Turner is president of the Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce. Brent is senior marketing manager contracting at TIAA. Graham is a financial aid social worker at Childcare Resources Inc. Newton is an animal rights and welfare activist. Turner is owner of Your Custom Catering & Events.

WorldPride gives go-ahead

The 2021 WorldPride event has given the green light for the summer in Copenhagen, Denmark, InterPride Inc. stated. The date is slated for Aug. 12-22. More information and a COVID-19 statement are available online.

AFFA creates loyalty card

The Alliance For Full Acceptance has announced the creation of AFFA Local’s Card — a 15 percent off incentive for food and beverage purchases totaling $500 or less for Charleston, S.C. and Atlanta, Ga. residents at all of The Indigo Road Restaurant Group establishments including: (Charleston) Mercantile + Mash, Bar Mash, Indaco, The Cocktail Club, The Macintosh, O-Ku Sushi, Oak Steakhouse, (Atlanta) O-Ku Sushi, Colletta, Donetto and Oak Steakhouse. Cost for the card is $100 and all proceeds go to support the work of the alliance.

Teen healthcare benefits lawsuit filed

Lambda Legal and Sirianni Youtz Spoonemore Hamburger PLLC filed a federal lawsuit challenging Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois’s administration of a blanket exclusion of gender-affirming care in an employer-provided health insurance plan provided by Catholic Health Initiatives Franciscan. The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington in Tacoma, Wash. on behalf of a 15-year-old transgender boy, “C.P.,” and his parents, and argues the exclusion is in direct violation of the nondiscrimination provisions under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act.

FCSJ sells holiday cards

The Freedom Center for Social Justice has introduced a holiday card line, the Butterfly Collection, for the 2020 season. Sales help support transgender and gender non-conforming artists. The Butterfly Collection is an Artist Entrepreneurship Program for transgender and gender-non-conforming artists. The first cohort of designers are Cory Rattrovo, Tobias Dean and Lena Gray. Over the course of the program, these graphic/visual artists will learn how to monetize their creative talents and launch a business. The Holiday Collection is a limited edition run and will allow participants to gain hands-on experience from concept to production. In addition to a stipend while in the program, they receive a portion of all sales. Packets of eight cards are $18 and can be purchased online at Bulk orders of 25 cards or more can also be secured by emailing with order details.

Hanukkah candle lighting goes virtual

SONiA disappear fear is hosting live-stream candle lighting and blessings from her Facebook page during the annual celebration of Hanukkah. “Everyone is welcome to join in … regardless of religion, nationality, politics, sexual orientation and other categories too often used to divide us,” the artist said. A song honoring the event is available for listening at

Facebook overhauling hate speech algorithms

KXAN has reported that Facebook is in the process of revamping its algorithms that monitor and police hate speech on its platform. The WoW Project breaks up hateful words into four quadrants: people disagree, men are trash, fair enough and worst of the worst, according to The Washington Post. “The developing endeavor will aim to be more active and immediate in wiping slurs and demeaning comments from posts — while prioritizing speech against some communities over others,” the Post added.

Bar properties get new owners

The property that houses Raleigh, N.C.’s Legends Nightclub Complex has new ownership. CityPlat purchased the real estate for $4.3 million for two properties located at 330 E. Hargett St. and 119 S. Harrington St., the Triangle Business Journal reported. The bar will continue to lease the space from CityPlat for the time being. The new owners said that there were no plans currently to make changes to the property, but redevelopment is likely at some point.

SCOTUS lawsuit winner receives settlement

The estate of Aimee Stephens has been awarded a $250,000 settlement for her lawsuit against R.G. and G.R. Harris Funeral Home in Michigan who fired her when she disclosed her intent to present as a woman during working hours. The estate will get $130,000 and the legal fees and costs will be covered by $120,000, The Associated Press reported.

New books offer respite from pandemic

A number of recent book releases have been launched just in time for holiday shopping and pandemic relief activity. On the list are: “A Day of Pride,” Roy Youldous-Raiss, children’s, inspired by Tel Aviv Pride Parade,; “Steven’s War,” Donovan Russo, crime drama, superhero-vigilante genre about a closeted Marine, (pre-orders); and “From Archie to Zack,” Vincent X. Kirsch, first love, picture book celebrating friendship and first crushes between two boys, on sale Dec. 29,

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Lainey Millen

Lainey Millen was formerly QNotes' associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director from 2001-2019 when she retired.