by Dan Rafter 

Wachowksi delivered a moving speech while accepting the Human Rights Campaign’s Visibility Award


Lana Wachowski, the critically acclaimed director of the Matrix trilogy and the new movie Cloud Atlas, opened up about her journey as a transgender woman while receiving the Human Rights Campaign’s Visibility Award in San Francisco this past weekend. Wachowski’s emotional speech included heart-wrenching stories about her inability to fit in as a child and her suicide attempt during high school. Wachowski shared her highly personal story with the goal of making conditions easier for other transgender youth to feel confident about their futures.

“It took great courage for Lana to share her personal story,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “The impact of people like Lana and other high-profile figures who talk openly about their journeys sends an incredibly powerful message to youth who, on a daily basis, feel like they are broken simply because of their gender identity or sexual orientation. No one should ever feel like their dreams cannot be achieved because of whom they are, and Lana is a shining example of how we are at our best when we are true to ourselves.”

In her remarks, Wachowski touched on the painful isolation that is all too familiar to many LGBT youth: “…without examples, without models, I began to believe voices in my head -- that I was a freak, that I am broken, that there is something wrong with me, that I will never be lovable.” Those feelings led her to consider suicide while in high school.

Wachowski closed her remarks by stressing that she wants to a beacon of hope for youth struggling with those same feelings of isolation: “I am here because when I was young, I wanted very badly to be a writer, I wanted to be a filmmaker, but I couldn’t find anyone like me in the world and it felt like my dreams were foreclosed simply because my gender was less typical than others.”

Wachowski’s new film, Cloud Atlas, opens in theaters tomorrow. The film, already garnering high praise, stars Tom Hanks and Halle Berry, and received a 10-minute standing ovation following its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.

 
 

by Cathy Rena

“EQUALIZE YOUTH” TO LAUNCH “OUT YOUR STORY”: AN ONLINE SUPPORT NETWORK THAT SAFELY CONNECTS LGBT YOUTH, FAMILIES AND LGBT ADULTS.

On October 11, 2012, National Coming Out Day, Equalize Youth, an emerging web-based non-profit with the mission of empowering lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth and their families, is set to launch its global support network, Out Your Story.

Out Your Story combines key components from sites such as Google Maps, Reddit, and craigslist, and is the first program to be launched by Equalize Youth. This one-of-a-kind platform uses a map interface to organize user-submitted content, including relevant, real-life accounts and resources. Out Your Story empowers youth with a knowledge-base formed by adults, and enables them to connect with relatable content -- the stories, reflections, and coping mechanisms submitted by those that have lived in similar backgrounds and communities, queer folks of their same gender and orientation.

Starting October 11th, the adults that care for the health, happiness, and safety of LGBTQ youth will have the unprecedented opportunity to out their story, and make a meaningful impact for these youth. Additional to sharing basic identity-related criteria like sexual orientation and gender identity, by using Google Maps, contributors will tie their entries to actual places: towns, states, high schools, summer camps. This enables visitors to search by typing a zip code to find a map filled with love and support from people that have been in their shoes. While storytelling initiatives such as It Gets Better have already proven successful, Out Your Story will distinguish itself from these projects through its anonymity, its multimedia versatility, and its unique knowledge base that delivers to visitors content that they personally relate to.

“Out Your Story is an easy, personal, and uncompromising way for everyone to help LGBT youth. I believe that everyone wishes there were something easy they could do, and together, we’re making it happen. Our team is creating an accessible, empowering, and engaging outlet for everyone that wants to positively impact LGBTQ youth. We are committed to maximizing the impact of everyone’s efforts through our platform, and our goal is give these individuals an irrefutable low barrier and high impact opportunity to make a difference in the lives of LGBT youth.” said Derek Gerson, Founder and Executive Director.

Across the globe, individuals are backing the development of Out Your Story. With the active participation of authors, celebrities, artists, and LGBT military personnel, Equalize Youth has ongoing efforts in the crowd-funding portal Indiegogo. The youth-led team behind this 21st century platform will employ the funds to further the Out Your Story platform, and introduce features such as identity-related tags for ethnic backgrounds, religious upbringings, ability/disability, and more. An ask.com-style framework that enables youth to safely submit questions to contributors is also in the works, together with a feature that enables youth to suggest petitions for changes in their school policy.

For more information visit www.equalizeyouth.org  or www.indiegogo.com/equalizeyouth.
 
 
The 2012 Icons List

1. Roberta Achtenberg
2. Gloria Anzaldua
3. Ann Bannon
4. Katharine Lee Bates
5. Mary Bonauto
6. Glenn Burke
7. Paul Cadmus
8. Truman Capote
9. Chris Colfer
10. Kate Clinton
11. Ramon Cortines
12. Marlene Dietrich
13. Jodie Foster
14. Jean Paul Gaultier
15. Henry Gerber
16. Billy Haines
17. Mary Kay Henry
18. Chris Hughes
19. Christine Jorgensen
20. Arthur Laurents
21. Don Lemon
22. Federico Garcia Lorca
23. Irshad Manji
24. Katherine Miller
25. Holly Near
26. RuPaul
27. Pierre Seel
28. Billy Strayhorn
29. Jon Stryker
30. Tom Waddell
31. Rev. Robert Wood




Source: Press release
Los Angeles Unified School District to Collaborate in LGBT History Month

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the nation’s second largest school district, will collaborate in LGBT History Month in October 2012.  The district will utilize the free LGBT History Month online educational resources.

The LAUSD educational collaboration follows the passage of the FAIR Education Act in 2011, making California the first state to require public schools to teach LGBT inclusive history. “ I want LGBT students to see their education as the diamond, their joy in their life rather than their trauma,” said Dr. Judy Chiasson, Coordinator, Human Relations, Diversity & Equity, for LAUSD. “Schools have an obligation to present the diversity of our communities. There are many different types of families; we want all of our families to be recognized in our schools.”

On September 19th, the School Board of Broward County, Florida, the nation’s sixth largest school district, became the first in the country to issue a unanimous resolution in support of LGBT History Month.

Equality Forum coordinates LGBT History Month. “Previously, the LGBT community was the only minority not taught its history at home, in public schools or religious institutions,” stated Malcolm Lazin, Executive Director, Equality Forum, and founder of LGBT History Month. “The Los Angeles and Broward School Districts are the first major public school districts to recognize the important national and international contributions of the LGBT community. These two school districts take the initial, but giant step in public school embracing LGBT inclusion and respect.”  

The Los Angeles and Broward School Districts include more than one million students. There are over 14,000 school districts in the United States.

In 2010, the federal government recognized LGBT History Month when Secretary Arne Duncan led a U.S. Department of Education ceremony. In 2011, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi issued a proclamation for LGBT History Month.

Each day of the month, an Icon is featured with a video, biography, bibliography, downloadable images and other educational resources. These resources are available without charge at www.lgbtHistoryMonth.com. Started in 2006 with 31 Icons per year, there are 217 Icons with resources archived on the LGBT History Month site.
2012 Icons