OAKLAND, Calif. — Over a decade after The Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF) was founded, the organization has announced that it has changed its name to MPact: Global Action for Gay Men’s Health and Rights.

The Oakland-based organization, originally created to bring the challenges of men who have sex with men back into global conversations around HIV, has gradually expanded their work over the years.

The name change is representative of global shifts in the HIV and international development landscapes to larger issues of sexual and reproductive health and human rights, including the rights of LGBTI people. MPact says their focus on men who have sex with men has not changed, but rather their strategies for addressing this community’s unique issues has fundamentally shifted over the years as attitudes toward LGBTQ people have as well.

“To address the escalating incidence of HIV, we must reframe our approach using sexual health and rights as our guiding principles. This means facing the root causes of health disparities head-on,” said Co-Founder and Executive Director George Ayala. “For gay and bisex-ual men, this includes decriminalizing homosexuality, ending homophobic violence, and combatting stigma and discrimination. It also means redressing economic disparities, challenging gender inequities, and confronting racism— each of which undermines the human rights of gay and bisexual men.”

The agency says their new name better reflects the mission and goal of the organization — to impact the lives of gay and bisexual men around the world. It also signals the need for “unapologetically bolder, more forward-thinking solutions” to the sexual health and rights needs of gay and bisexual men — solutions that will get the world more quickly to the end of AIDS.

On July 22, MPact will host a pre-meeting ahead of the 2018 International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam titled “Out With It” which focuses on supporting 12 teams of youth-led innovative solutions to the sexual health and rights of gay and bisexual men.

info: mpactglobal.org.

Quick Hits: Beyond the Carolinas

Lesbian partners, soccer star Megan Rapinoe, 32, and WNBA basketball pro Sue Bird, 37, have become the first LGBTQ couple to grace the cover of ESPN magazine’s front cover for its body issue. The two posed sans clothing in the historic event. Other photographs in the feature spread included ones of them with a basketball and soccer ball in action poses, wooden shots taken in the Seattle wooded outdoors, showcasing muscle and agility in online videos and more. Bird told SBNation’s The UCONN Blog that feedback from her appearance was 99.9 percent positive. Those who had issue with the magazine disliked the naked bodies more than anything. Bird added, “It’s celebrating the athlete body and what it takes to be an athlete, and all the time and care you put into it and a healthy lifestyle,” she said. “We all look different if you look at that magazine. You see all different body types but at the end of the day it’s people taking care of themselves to perform at the highest level.” Another gay athlete featured in the issue is Olympian figure skater Adam Rippon.
info: es.pn/2KUAtVc.

“Queer Eye” cast members Bobby Berk, Karamo Brown, Tan France, Jonathan Van Ness, and Antoni Porowski were interviewed for the August issue of Glamour magazine which is now on newsstands. The quintet underwent an audition process that included “three-day ‘Hunger Games’-style audition rounds that included group exercises, interviews and chemistry tests. Producers shifted through thousands of applicants to narrow down its search process to 300 for the auditions.
info: glamour.com/story/queer-eye-fab-

LGBTQ researcher Dr. Yolanda Graham has been named Georgia Psychiatrist of the Year by the George Psychiatric Association.
info: bit.ly/2MX5wAf.

GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) has decried Maine’s Gov. Paul LePage for his veto of a conversion therapy ban. GLAD Executive Director Janson Wu issued the following statement: “ [the] heartless and dangerous action by Governor LePage leaves Maine’s youth at risk. There is a clear consensus in the professional medical and mental health community about the serious harms conversion therapy causes LGBTQ youth. Governor LePage had an opportunity to protect Maine youth from these harms, and to ensure parents are not misled into subjecting their children to an unsafe and ineffective so-called “treatment.”  Instead, the governor has sent a signal that the risk of hurting LGBTQ youth is acceptable. Thirteen other states, under both Republican and Democratic leadership, have already banned the practice, including neighboring New Hampshire where Governor Sununu signed a bill just last month. This is not a partisan question. It’s about sending the message to LGBTQ youth that there is nothing wrong with them, that they are loved and valued as they are. This is far from the final word on this issue. GLAD will continue working with our local partners to ensure the dangerous practice is stopped. It’s too important to young people across the state not to continue fighting for them to simply be themselves, and to know they are supported and cherished without having to change a fundamental and beautiful part of who they are. GLAD has worked this session with EqualityMaine, the ACLU of Maine, the Maine Women’s Lobby, National Center for Lesbian Rights, Human Rights Campaign and other state and local partners to advance this legislation in Maine.
info: glad.org.

GLSEN Visionary Award winner David Henry Jacobs made a surprise announcement at the Respect Awards- New York, giving the entire GLSEN community the chance to help raise a total of $2 million in support of GLSEN’s impact in local communities everywhere. ”Here I am with you as the storm rages on, excited to know that all of you can and will be part of GLSEN’s Campaign for Local Impact in your own way,” Henry said in announcing his new commitment, “I encourage you all to continue using your time, your talent, and your treasure to support GLSEN’s value.”
info: glsen.org.

The NLGJA – The Association of LGBTQ Journalists announces the recipients of its Excellence in Journalism Awards and recognized exemplary work produced in 2017. The highest individual awards, NLGJA Journalist of the Year and Sarah Pettit Memorial Award for the LGBTQ Journalist of the Year, were awarded to Ronan Farrow and Diane Anderson-Minshall, respectively. They join 30 other awardees from one special recognition and six other award categories.
info: nlgja.org.

University of California San Francisco researchers Mitchell R. Lunn, M.D. and Juno Obedin-Maliver, M.D., MPH are conducting the first-ever longitudinal health research study of LGBTQ adults in the U.S. The main question the team wants to answer over many years is: “How does being a sexual or gender minority influence physical, mental, or social health?” Those who may enroll must live  in the U.S. or its territories, identify as LGBTQ and be 18 years old or older. Enrollment is available online at pridestudy.org (click on “Join Today” button) or by calling 855-421-9991 (or 415-476-4221 if calling from the U.S. Virgin Islands or American Samoa).
info: ucsf.edu. pridestudy@ucsf.edu.

Community Marketing & Insights has released its 12th Annual LGBTQ Community Survey report which includes 40,460 respondents from the LGBTQ communities in 151 countries. More than 200 LGBTQ media, events and organizations worldwide partnered with CMI in this year’s study, helping to gain wide representation from across the community. A sample of 2018 key findings of 18,743 LGBTQ individuals living in the U.S. shows that 76 percent of LGBTQ community members fear there will be a roll back of recent LGBTQ equality gains in the coming year. Other statistics include ones on support, equality, business, Pride events, among others.
info: communitymarketinginc.org.

Ashley Hobbs, a photographer based in rural Virginia, is currently shooting a visual story-telling project called Discovering Gender. “The project highlights (and advocates for) the humanity of gender non-conforming individuals through a combination of photography and personal narrative,” Hobbs shared. “We are currently recruiting gender non-conforming (in identity/presentation) individuals that are interested in helping educate, empower and encourage others by sharing their own unique stories and images across a variety of digital and/or print platforms. It is the mission of the Discovering Gender Project to showcase gender non-conforming individuals from all walks of life in a positive, humanizing, and uplifting way,” Hobbs added. Hobbs’ wife Jessica Simmons is also involved in the project.
info: discoveringgenderproject.wordpress.com/theproject.

The GLBT Historical Society’s current newsletter on saving LGBTQ neighborhoods, aka “gayborhoods,” includes an interview with Amin Ghaziani, author of “There Goes the Gayborhood?” which was published in 2015.
info: glbthistory.org/news/newsletter.

RespectAbility celebrated Pride Month by highlighting the intersection of disability and LGBTQ individuals on its social media channels and said it will continue to recognize their important contributions on a regular basis. Of note is that among lesbian, gay and bisexual adults, 30 percent of men and 36 percent of women also identify as having a disability. Several RespectAbility Fellows and staff members who identify as being part of both the LGBTQ and disability communities wrote personal reflections which are available online.
info: respectabilityusa.org.

Hornet debuted its “True Colors” campaign to celebrate the inspiring stories of LGBTQ individuals whose relationships propagated the advancement of the community by “living boldly and fighting courageously” despite enormous risks and societal opposition.
info: hornet.com.

In order to ensure every voice is heard this November, the Democratic National Committee has launched an LGBTQ Voting Rights Toolkit to help answer common LGBTQ-specific voting concerns. “Now more than ever, with LGBTQ people under attack from Republicans and the administration rolling back the progress we have made, LGBTQ people must get out and vote,” the party stated. “Stonewall showed us that speaking up against abuses is the only way to achieve change. With voting rights and LGBTQ rights under attack by this administration, the Democratic Party is proud to stand with LGBTQ people and ensure that every voice is heard this November,” said party Chair Tom Perez. “The DNC’s LGBTQ Voting Rights Toolkit gives someone the resources they need to make sure they aren’t turned away at the polls because of who they are or who they love. Too much is at stake this November, especially for the LGBTQ community, for any voter to stay home.”
info: dnc.org.

Equality Florida has reported that fear is growing that a serial killer is targeting Jacksonville, Fla.’s transgender community. Since February, four transgender women of color have been shot with only one of them surviving. The cases remain unsolved. The organization said that law enforcement continues to misgender the victims. Equality Florida’s Director of Transgender Equality and Chair of TransAction Florida Gina Duncan has been working along with local transgender advocacy groups to educate the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO), offering transgender cultural competency training and resources to give law enforcement the most effective way to respond to violence against transgender individuals. On June 26, the JSO contacted Equality Florida to say they are considering the same Department of Justice-sanctioned training that other agencies have undergone.
info: equalityflorida.org.

GLAAD held a first-of-its-kind, three-hour telethon broadcast called “Pride Live” which streamed live on June 29 on GLAAD’s YouTube channel. The brainchild of award-winning comedian and GLAAD board member Hannah Hart, the interactive variety program harnessed the power of celebrities and social media to raise $50,000 for LGBTQ youth. One-hundred percent of proceeds raised will go toward GLAAD’s youth initiatives, including their Amp Your Voice campaign which empowers LGBTQ young people to speak up, speak out, register to vote and then take the issues that matter most to them to the polls on Nov. 6.
info: glaad.org. intomore.com.

Cyndi Lauper and the True Colors Fund, in partnership with the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, unveiled the State Index on Youth Homelessness — a first-of-its-kind resource that evaluates all 50 states and the District of Columbia on their efforts to prevent and end youth homelessness. The two organizations have also launched a campaign to empower the public to contact their governors to improve their state’s index scores.
info: truecolorsfund.org.

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.