News briefs for this week from around the net.

Pridelines Announces 10th Annual Fundraising Gala

(Pridelines) Pridelines Youth Services, South Florida’s oldest LGBTQ service agency, will host its 10th annual fundraising gala -- Pridelines’ Masquerade Ball. The Masquerade Ball will take place Saturday, August 15, at 6:30 p.m. at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. Tickets are on sale now for $175 per guest or $1,750 for a table of 10.

“This year’s Masquerade will feature our silent auction, cocktail reception and a formal dining experience along with dancing and a few special surprises that will keep our guests talking until next year,” said Victor Diaz-Herman, executive director of Pridelines.

This year’s event will feature live performances and will end with an after-party presented by OCULTO, a newly launched golden lager infused with blue agave.

“Guests are encouraged to wear elaborately decorated masks in keeping with the Masquerade theme,” Diaz-Herman added. “Italian-based event partner Carta Alta is providing a 25% discount on their hand-crafted masks with the code: ‘masquerade2015’ at” 

Proceeds from Masquerade benefit Pridelines Youth Services, in its mission to support education and empower South Florida’s LGBTQ youth in safe and diverse environments, and to promote social change through dialogue.

 Tickets are available at Table host and sponsorship opportunities are also available on the website or by contacting Diaz-Herman at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 305-571-9601 ext. 3.

United for Care ramps up efforts in Medical Marijuana Campaign

(United for Care) In its second effort to legalize medical marijuana by constitutional amendment, United for Care, or People United for Medical Marijuana, has shipped more than 100,000 petitions to Florida Supervisors of Elections offices to garner Supreme Court review. 

“This is a massive head start over the previous campaign - which started late. If we can sustain this pace, we should ensure our place on the ballot before the holidays,” said United for Care Director, Ben Pollara in a statement.
“This early accomplishment comes as a direct result out of the dedicated volunteers we have and the generous donors large and small helping to fund our efforts.  However we still need to collect over half a million petitions.”

The Supervisor of Elections has thirty days to verify that a petition is valid. Following verification, the Supreme Court will then schedule a review. Pollara said United for Care expects to have its review date by mid-August.

Florida Office of Compassionate Use Announces New Director

(FL Dept. of Health) The Florida Department of Health announced Christian Bax, J.D., MBA, is the new director of the Office of Compassionate Use. Compassionate use, or extended access refers to the treatment of a seriously ill patient using a new, unapproved drug when no other treatments are available.

Previously, Bax co-founded CBK Consulting, a company experienced in navigating medical marijuana regulations in Nevada and Washington.

“The department is confident his educational and professional experience make him the right choice to get this product to children with intractable epilepsy and people with advanced cancer as safely and quickly as possible.”

amfAR Launches National PEPFAR Database at IAS 2015

(EDGE) amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, announced the beta launch of its PEPFAR Country/Regional Operational Plan database, a comprehensive, navigable database of PEPFAR's planned funding of HIV/AIDS activities from 2007 to 2014. The database was unveiled at the 8th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention (IAS 2015) in Vancouver, Canada.

The database enables users to analyze planned funding data extracted from PEPFAR's publicly released Country and Regional Operational Plan (COP/ROP) documents. It's designed to help civil society organizations, ministries of health and finance, researchers, and other stakeholders to access and understand PEPFAR's programs and priorities at a deeper level than is currently possible using other platforms.

PEPFAR (The U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief), established in 2003, is the largest international program responding to the global HIV/AIDS epidemic and the largest commitment one nation has ever made to combat a disease internationally. Between 2007 and 2014, more than $29 billion has been budgeted in PEPFAR resources through the COPs/ROPs process.

The database, which can be found at, shows allocations by year, host country, primary partner, strategic area (Care, Treatment, Prevention, Governance and Systems, Management and Operations), budget code and organizational type. In addition, country epidemiological profiles and PEPFAR targets are available to provide context and to show the public health impact of investments.

For more information, visit

Obama Pushes African Nations to Treat Gays Equally Under Law

(AP) President Barack Obama nudged African nations Saturday to treat gays and lesbians equally under the law, a position that remains unpopular through much of the continent. Obama's Kenyan counterpart responded by calling the matter a "non-issue" for his country.

Obama tackled the sensitive issue on his first full day in Kenya, the country of his father's birth. He drew on his own background as an African-American in the U.S, saying he is "painfully aware of the history when people are treated differently under the law."

"That's the path whereby freedoms begin to erode and bad things happen," Obama added during a joint news conference with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. "When a government gets in the habit of treating people differently, those habits can spread."

Kenyatta was unmoved, saying gay rights "is not really an issue on the foremost mind of Kenyans. And that is a fact."

A number of Kenyan politicians and religious leaders had warned Obama in outspoken terms that any overtures on gay rights would not be welcomed in Kenya, where gay sex is punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

Obama's visit to Kenya -- the first by a sitting U.S. president -- has been long sought by this East African nation where he is widely considered a local son.

Acknowledging that some Kenyans have been frustrated that it took him until the seventh year of his presidency to visit, Obama joked that he didn't want the rest of Africa to think he was "playing favorites."

Still, he noted the U.S. had concerns about violence that erupted in Kenya after its 2007 election. Kenyatta faced charges related to that violence in the International Criminal Court, though those charges were later dropped.

Greg Louganis Documentary Airs on HBO August 4

(EDGE) Four-time Olympic gold medalist Greg Louganis is universally recognized as the greatest diver ever, but his greatest impact may ultimately come from being one of the first openly gay athletes in America. The intimate documentary "Back On Board: Greg Louganis" looks at the public triumphs and private struggles of this LGBT trailblazer when it debuts Tuesday, August 4 (10:00-11:30 p.m. ET/PT), exclusively on HBO.

"Back On Board: Greg Louganis" traces his story from a difficult childhood, through his Olympic conquests, to a transformative post-Olympic life, outlining the discrimination and other obstacles he has faced throughout his remarkable journey.

"Greg Louganis is one of the most decorated and celebrated Olympians of any generation, and we are delighted to share his story -- both personal and athletic -- with the acquisition of this documentary," says Ken Hershman, president, HBO Sports. "Greg allowed the filmmakers unrestricted access to his life story and viewers will benefit from this deeply personal portrait and gain a terrific perspective on his complicated and rewarding life."

"I think it is awesome that 'Back On Board' has found a home with HBO Sports. At times, it's awkward and a little bit embarrassing to reveal so much of myself -- it's a true documentary. I am honored and humbled to share my story," says Louganis.

Greg Louganis announced to the world that he was gay in the mid-1990s, but it was a not a well-kept secret in the diving world before that. During his dominance in the 1980s, many sponsors knew of his sexual orientation, which limited his marketability -- just one example of the homophobia and hateful rhetoric that followed him long before and after his official announcement that he was gay.

Kickstarter for 'Dying Words' Seeks to Remember Journalist Jeff Schmalz

(EDGE) In an effort to keep the memory of brilliant journalist Jeff Schmalz alive, Samuel G. Freedman and Kerry Donahue have created a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for "Dying Words," an audio documentary and companion book about the brilliant journalist who covered the AIDS epidemic as he was dying of the disease.

"Thus far, we've paid about $10,000 out of our own pockets to do the research for the documentary and book," writes Donahue. "Our largest expenses are still ahead of us…We're looking at $25,000 or more in upcoming expenses. The risk and challenge is very basic: to be able to bring this vital work to fruition and to make sure that it reaches the largest possible audience."

At publication, they had reached $26,015 -- exceeding their $20,000 goal with a week left to go.

Schmalz was a journalistic prodigy. He was hired by The New York Times while still a college student, and he was essentially running its metropolitan coverage by his mid-20s. From his crisply pressed trousers and shirts to his unerring sense of how to structure a feature story, he was a consummate Timesman. People in the newsroom speculated that someday he could be "on the masthead" -- the list of the top editors on the world's most important newspaper.

All the while, though, Schmalz was struggling with his identity as a gay man. He came out to many friends and peers on the Times, but he kept his sexual orientation secret from the newsroom management, the people who had control over his professional life. Under the executive editor A.M. Rosenthal, the Times newsroom of the 1970s and 80s was a homophobic place, and journalists known to be gay or lesbian were stalled or even demoted in their careers.

Out Gawker Writer: Site is 'in a Total Meltdown' Since Controversial Post

(EDGE) Following Gawker's controversial post outing Conde Nast's CFO for allegedly contacting a conspiracy theory obsessed porn star/escort, which sparked two of the website's top editors to resign, out Gawker writer Rich Juzwiak told the Huffington Post in an interview Wednesday that the media company is "in a total meltdown."

Tensions at Gawker seem to be high after the story hit the web and was met with online outrage for ostensibly outing David Geithner (brother of former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner). The site's executive editor, Tommy Craggs, and editor-in-chief, Max Read, both left the company Monday after Gawker's senior management voted to remove the story last Friday - a decision that has not sat well with editorial staff.

"People are furious -- editorial is basically furious with our leadership," Juzwiak told HuffPost Live host Marc Lamont Hill, after saying the staff is "just in a total meltdown."

The writer went on to say the internal outrage comes from an unexplained shift in Gawker's editorial guidelines, which allowed the site's senior management to take down the article without consulting staff.

"Something changed, and we weren't privy to what," Juzwiak said. "Before Friday, we were a site that did not take down posts on whims. On Friday, we became a site that did that."

"In my opinion, the story became a real story when the post was taken down," he said. "Up until then you could deride it as typical Gawker sleaze if you wanted to. ... [But] once the post went down, all this scrutiny went on it and then the story became not the story anymore. The story became the story about the story."

Scotland Pride Event Will Allow Drag Queens After All

(EDGE) An alternative gay Pride event in Glasgow, Scotland will now allow drag queens after the gathering's officials made headlines for announcing a ban on all drag artists because they were deemed too "offensive" for the transgender community.

Gay Star News reports the Free Pride event, which is set to take place next month, called the move a "mistake" and will now welcome any performers of any gender. Billed as the "anti-commercialist" alternative to Glasgow's main Pride event, Free Pride caused an international stir when its organizers first revealed drag queens were not allowed because trans people could be offended by the art form.

"The original decision was made because many trans members of Free Pride have had negative experiences with drag acts veering towards racism, misogyny and transphobia; the lack of contact with the drag community contributed," Free Pride said, according to GSN. "We made a mistake, and we apologize."

The rest of the statement can be read at: