Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender news bites for the week.


Film, “The Same Difference” Explores Ideas of Black Lesbian Identity

(SFGN) Director Nneka Onuorah has experienced years of lesbian stereotyping from outside, and inside the community. In her film “The Same Difference,” Onuorah examines what happens when marginalized individuals choose to define themselves through their differences. And what happens when the lines they’ve drawn start to blur, NBC News reports.

"Black women don't have a voice—Black 'AG' [aggressive] lesbians don't have a voice," said Onuorah, referring to lesbians exhibiting behaviors traditionally deemed masculine. "I wanted to tell a story of my own for people who look like me," said Onuorah.

“The Same Difference” is Onuorah’s commentary on the criticism and criteria of AG lesbians, also referred to as studs, as they take on roles deemed stereotypically feminine.

"My goal was to introduce AG lesbians—all types of lesbians—to the broader world, and start a conversation within the lesbian community about what it means to be a lesbian," Onuorah said. "It's hard enough to have the world disapprove, but honestly, it's really hard to have much of your own community go against [your identity]."

Among the women featured in Onuorah’s film is Felicia Pearson, known for her role as “Snoop” on HBO’s The Wire. Pearson prepares herself for an upcoming audition, practicing in heels.

Also featured is King Kellz, a self-identified stud, who receives backlash and disapproval for her hair extensions. And Jordan Diaz-Cross, a stud who offers to bear a child when she finds her partner is infertile.

The film does not offer tidy resolutions, but merely acknowledges the perseverance of the characters and of the circumstances and judgments that confine them.

“The Same Difference" debuted in October in New York City at NewFest, an HBO-sponsored LGBT film festival, where it made festival history by selling out four screenings in a record four minutes, NBC reports.

The film will debut in Miami, Jan. 14.


NBA Ref Kennedy Comes Out After Player's Gay Slur

(AP) Veteran NBA referee Bill Kennedy has told Yahoo Sports he is gay after Sacramento Kings guard Rajon Rondo directed a gay slur at him during a game.

Kennedy tells Yahoo he is "proud to be an NBA referee and I am proud to be a gay man," adding that he chose to come out in hopes of sending a message "that you must allow no one to make you feel ashamed of who you are."

Rondo was suspended one game by the NBA for directing a derogatory and offensive term toward a referee in the Kings' game against Boston in Mexico on Dec. 3. Rondo apologized Monday and the Kings said his comments were disrespectful and offensive.

Kennedy is in his 18th season as an NBA official, having worked more than 1,050 regular-season games and five in the NBA Finals.

"I wholeheartedly support Bill's decision to live his life proudly and openly," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. "Throughout his 18-year career with the league, Bill has excelled as a referee because of his passion, dedication and courage. Those qualities will continue to serve him well both as a game official and as a positive influence for others. While our league has made great progress, our work continues to ensure that everyone is treated with respect and dignity."

Kennedy worked San Antonio's home game against Utah on Monday, receiving applause from fans when he was shown on the videoboard with the officiating crew and his name was announced.

The league took more than a week before announcing a penalty for Rondo, who will sit out Sacramento's game against Houston on Tuesday. Yahoo reported that Kennedy and another referee told league investigators that Rondo used profanity and anti-gay comments.


“Happy Bisexual” Author says Future is Bright for the Bi

(SFGN) Neil Endicott is a bisexuality coach, and author of “How to be a Happy Bisexual.” In a recent Huffington Post column, Endicott describes the great strides in visibility that bisexuals have taken over the last twenty years.

“It's now easy to find online bisexual communities, blogs, information and activist sites. Bisexual YouTube vloggers are creating new spaces to express their experience and interact with thousands of viewers. There are thriving bisexual meet-up groups in cities around the world,” Endicott writes.

Endicott cites the YouGov UK and US polls stating that 1 in 2 of youths surveyed considers themselves not “100 percent heterosexual.” But he also acknowledges the amount of biphobia still present and the disproportionate amount by which bisexuals are affected by health and mental wellness issues. According to Pew research, less than a third of bisexuals have come out to loved ones for fear of discrimination as opposed to three quarters of gay men and lesbians surveyed.

“Veteran LGBT activist Peter Tatchell has argued that as society becomes more accepting of the LGBT community, more and more people will be open to both opposite sex and same sex desire. This year's YouGov polls indicate that a real shift in social attitudes towards bisexuality is already underway,” says Endicott.

He then references a UCLA study which found that up to 5 percent of the population identify as bisexual. With his signature optimism, Endicott agrees with Tatchell that with increased visibility and acceptance will come swifter resolutions and positive change.

“Let's hold on to that positive thought as we head into the New Year. Things are getting better for bisexual people. Maybe not as quickly as we'd like, but we're heading in the right direction.”


Venezuela Elects Trans Woman to National Assembly

(SFGN) Lawyer Tamara Adrian is now the first openly transgender person to be elected to Venezuela’s National Assembly, the Washington Blade reports. Adrian has been elected to represent the capital of Caracas.

The announcement was first made on Twitter by Voluntad Popular, or Popular Will, a pro-LGBT party.

Adrian also spoke with Out magazine.

“Venezuela is going through the worst economic, social and cultural crisis ever recorded,” Adrian tells Out. “We have to talk about the rights of couples and families, about the gender identity Act, about the mutilation of intersex children, and about discrimination, which includes hate crimes, bullying, workplace harassment, and access to housing and healthcare.”

Adrian herself is unable to obtain legal recognition as a female per current Venezuelan law. As a lawyer she specializes in foreign investments and capital and commodity markets

Other trans politicians recently elected in Latin America include, Michelle Suarez, Luisa Revilla Urcia, and Adela Hernandez the Blade reports.

In 2014, Suarez was elected to the Uruguayan Senate, reported El Observador, she called it a bittersweet victory to be the first openly trans senator to be elected.

Peruvian activist Urcia won her seat on the local council of La Esperanza, in the province of Trujillo as part of the Regional Movement for Development with Honesty and Security, the Blade reports. Her platform included constructing a home for those living with HIV/AIDS.

“I am going to promote equality and I will say no to discrimination,” she told Peru’s Correo Diario. “We want everyone to have equal access, to succeed and to achieve their goals. When there is no discrimination, there is pacification. Infrastructure and modernity is important, but promoting values and showing concern for the people matters even more.”

In 2012, Hernandez became the first openly trans person to hold public office in Cuba, after becoming a member of the Caibrien Municipal Council.