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    Fasten Your Seatbelts

    By Joanie Juster–

    “Fasten your seatbelts: It’s going to be a bumpy night,” Bette Davis famously growled in All About Eve. Which is my way of saying this week’s column is all over the map. Buckle up and read on.

    Club Q and Beyond

    Waking up on the morning of November 20 to the news of the tragedy at Club Q was a wrenching mirror of another Sunday morning in June 2016, waking to the news from Pulse Orlando. News of the lives lost, and the lives forever altered by injury, trauma, and loss, hit the community like a gut punch, especially falling on the Transgender Day of Remembrance.

    The LGBTQ+ community knows what to do at times like these; we’ve been down this road too many times. Vigils were organized. GoFundMe’s were created to assist the victims. The community came together to mourn, to cry, to support one another. In person and on social media people shared their grief and horror, but also their fury and rage at yet another vicious attack on people like them—people who were simply out for a fun night at a seemingly safe place where they could relax and be themselves.

    People were grieving, they were enraged, they were scared. But they weren’t surprised.

    It would be disingenuous to be surprised when lawmakers, faith leaders, media, and too many others on the far right are doing everything in their power to attack, slander, misrepresent, and criminalize anyone who doesn’t fit their extremely narrow definition of what they consider “normal.” And they have only ratcheted up the hateful rhetoric in the wake of the Club Q shooting. They are shamelessly spreading lies and hate speech, and passing anti-LGBTQ+ laws at an alarming pace, and making sure that no one feels safe, even in spaces, like Club Q, which were designed to be safe havens.

    And, ultimately, they are inciting, encouraging, and condoning violence against LGBTQ+ people. They are bludgeoning the community with homophobic and transphobic words and laws, so it’s no surprise when violence follows. It has become normalized. It has become accepted by too many.

    Enough already. Call out the hate when you see it. And don’t let the haters dim your light. The haters are trying to squeeze all the life and joy out of you, but don’t let ‘em. We have to believe that love wins.

    A True Champion

    Congratulations to Amy Schneider, who prevailed over fierce competition to win the Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions. It has been quite a year for Amy, as she became the most successful woman to ever play Jeopardy!, one of the top players ever (winning 40 consecutive games), the first transgender person to make it to the elite Tournament of Champions, and now this year’s top winner.

    These are truly impressive achievements. But Amy is a champion in more ways than one. Throughout her many appearances on the popular game show, she has changed hearts and minds throughout the country by simply being her true authentic self. She has become a role model to young trans people everywhere who see themselves in her and now aspire to new dreams. When I interviewed her almost a year ago, during her first winning streak, she was pondering where her newfound visibility would lead.

    Amy has found her voice, and is using her new platform for good. While the Tournament of Champions was being broadcast, she learned that her home state of Ohio was trying to pass SB 434, legislation that would deny gender-affirming medical care to trans kids. So, she flew back to Ohio to testify before the state legislature on their behalf. She wrote to her 143K+ Twitter followers: “If you are a young trans person that sees these bills being proposed, and feeling frightened, or hopeless, know that you are not alone. The hearing was packed far beyond overflowing with people who came here to fight for you. And I know that, eventually, we’re going to win.”

    Spoken like a true champion. Thank you, Amy.

    Motherly Love in Latin America

    I promised you a roller-coaster ride, so here is some heartwarming news.

    Mothers throughout Latin America have been joining together to provide safe haven and love to those most in need of love and support. The Latin American Movement of Mothers of LGTB+ Children, founded in 2017, has members in 14 countries. They held their first in-person meeting in Buenos Aires in November, and attended the huge gay pride march.

    Representing countries whose laws and customs vary widely in their support of LGBTQ+ citizens, the mothers lobby to counteract homophobic and transphobic laws, and reinforce existing bans on violence and discrimination. In countries that are traditionally very socially conservative and religious, they are working to change hearts and minds, and provide unconditional love and support to those whose own families are not supportive.

    These mothers give us hope, and something to be grateful for.

    December 15 Deadline: Guaranteed Income for Trans Citizens

    Applications are being accepted until December 15 for San Francisco’s pilot program, Guaranteed Income for Trans People (GIFT). Announced in 2021 by Mayor Breed, the program will provide 55 low-income transgender San Franciscans with $1,200 per month for up to 18 months, to help them achieve financial security. GIFT is one of three pilot programs that target specific populations that experience poverty and economic instability at disproportionate rates. According to a statement from the Mayor’s Office, “In 2015, when the U.S. Trans Survey was last conducted, 33% of trans Californians were living in poverty, compared to 12% of people in the general population. The percentage among trans people who are also Black, Indigenous, and people of color is even higher.”

    More info: https://www.giftincome.org/

    Horizons Foundation’s Annual State of the Movement

    The LGBTQ+ community has faced significant challenges during the past year, including a bruising midterm season and an avalanche of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. Movement leaders will be taking part in a virtual discussion hosted annually by Horizons Foundation, “State of the Movement.” Speakers from the ACLU National LGBTQ Rights Project, National LGBTQ Task Force, and Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund will be joined by Evan Low, Assemblymember for California’s 26th District.

    The State of the Movement will take place online on December 6 from 5–6:30 pm.

    Registration is free: https://tinyurl.com/HSTM22

    One More Rant: WTF FIFA?

    While doing research for a future column about how professional sports teams have been working to make sports more welcoming and inclusive for LGBTQ+ players and fans, I keep stumbling over the hot mess that is the World Cup. The travesty that is playing out in Qatar is sportswashing at its most egregious. There is no way to condone the behind-the-scenes machinations that led FIFA to allow the most popular sporting event in the world to be held in a country with such an abysmal record on human rights: as usual, it’s all about money. And while the Qatari government has mouthed hollow platitudes about welcoming LGBTQ+ players and fans, reports from the ground tell quite a different story. One can only hope that the spotlight on Qatar during the World Cup will bring more awareness to the country’s abuses, and create enough international pressure to bring about change. Let’s keep the pressure on.

    Wither Twitter?

    It has been one crazy ride in the Twitterverse this past month, as Elon Musk has taken one of the largest public forums in the world and, basically, trashed it. And yes, I know many folks out there have been down on Twitter from the beginning. But I have to say that Twitter, like any other part of the internet, is a tool that can be used in many ways. I’ve grown to depend upon it for breaking news, for information, for access to publications and writers around the world that I might not otherwise have found, and, yes, for community—I’ve built real-world friendships with many wonderful people through Twitter. And I will miss all that if it indeed collapses under the weight of Elon’s ego.

    Like many, I have been trying out an alternative platform, Mastodon. Unlike Twitter, Mastodon is not owned by anyone: it is an open-source platform. It looks and functions similarly to Twitter, but seems to be striving to be a kinder, more welcoming place. If any of you have tried it, I’d be curious to hear your thoughts. You can find me there at @jjinsf@sfba.social

    Now for the Fun Stuff

    The holidays are here, with a whirlwind of events and opportunities to celebrate being together again after a couple of years of keeping our distance. That said, please remember to stay safe: keep washing your hands, wear a mask when advisable, and if you’re sick, stay home and don’t infect others—all common-sense precautions that never go out of style. Here are just a few of the events I’m looking forward to in the next couple of weeks. Hoping to see you all there!

     … and there are so many more!

    One Last Word: What the World Needs Now

    As we continue in the season of festive gatherings, we cannot forget our neighbors in our cities, country, and the world who lack access to the very basics of food and water. War is still raging in Ukraine, Yemen, and elsewhere, and climate change-related drought and floods have destroyed the ability of countless people around the world to be able to access even the barest of necessities. We can all help. Even small donations go a long way, especially if you pledge them monthly. Your local food bank is a great place to start. On a global level, World Central Kitchen ( www.wckitchen.org ) and the United Nations’ World Food Program ( www.wfp.org ) save lives daily around the world, wherever the need is greatest. Thank you for helping.

    Joanie Juster is a long-time community volunteer, activist, and ally.

    In Case You Missed It
    Published on December 1, 2022