Members of Black Pride march in the Pride St. Louis parade in June.
Pride St. Louis

A group of people in St. Louis face a one-two punch of adversity every day.

As members of the LGBT population, they can legally be denied housing or fired on a whim. As African-Americans, they’re already more likely to be homeless or unemployed.

A small, local LGBT organization called Black Pride  embraces all these challenges. But as members prepare for their annual celebration this weekend in The Grove area, members still have to justify the group’s very existence.

Sign post for blood drive.
Shizzyo | Flickr

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced recently it is re-evaluating its ban against accepting blood donations from gay men. 

The FDA is now seeking ways to assess a potential donor's individual HIV risk as opposed to a general ban on a population. The agency is currently seeking public comment on the policy.  

Stacey Crawford twirls flags with the color guard at a Band Together rehearsal.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A St. Louis LGBT band will mark a milestone this Sunday, a happy commemoration at a time of mourning.

Crowd bows their heads during a moment of silence in memory of the victims in Orlando Saturday June 18, 2016 at Pride St. Charles.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Black and white ribbons joined the familiar rainbow colors Saturday in St. Charles for the region’s first Pride festival since 49 people were killed at a gay nightclub last Sunday in Orlando.

Speeches and prayers paid tribute to the victims, and a moment of silence lasted for minutes as a chime rang slowly in their memory.

Jimmy Hawkins, center, stands at the Transgender Memorial Garden as marchers continue to arrive.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

In our weekly "Behind the Headlines" segment, St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh discussed the top news stories that caught St. Louisans’ attention this week, with the people who produced them and contributed to them. This week, we turned our discussion to the tragedy in Orlando and how the St. Louis community has responded to the mass shooting at a popular gay nightclub there that killed 49 people.

Brandon Reid takes part in a video project that aims to deliver messages of support and solidarity to the LGBT community in the wake of this past weekend's Orlando shooting.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

For decades, many LGBT people could only talk freely about their lives, hold hands with a partner or feel completely safe in one kind of place: a gay bar. Some would say that's still true today.

But the horrific mass shooting at an Orlando club has stripped away the idea of safety.

Early Sunday morning, the shooter surprised a lively crowd with a spray of bullets that killed 49 people and injured 50. Across the nation, people in the LGBT community said it was a painful reminder that they can be targets of hate and violence.

A St. Louis social work student has launched a project to help people in St. Louis and Orlando begin to heal.

A gunman opened fire on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., early Sunday morning, killing at least 50 people in the deadliest mass shooting in recent U.S. history before being shot dead by police.

LawrenceOP | Flickr

President Barack Obama said the killing of 50 people at an Orlando nightclub was an act “terror and hate.” It was largest mass shooting in U.S. history with at least another 53 wounded. The president also called for flags to be flown at half staff.

In St. Louis, a vigil is planned in the Grove neighborhood on Sunday evening at 8:30 p.m.

Attorney Jessica Liss discusses the debate of restroom use by transgender students on Tuesday's St. Louis on the Air.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, attorney Jessica Liss, a managing shareholder at the St. Louis office of Jackson Lewis, joined the program to discuss the Obama administration’s recent guidance regarding restroom use by transgender students in public schools.

Mazy and Amber Gilleylen in their Overland living room which is also the classroom where Gilleylen has home-schooled her daughter since last fall.
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

There are plenty of smart, happy 10-year-olds in St. Louis. But there’s only one Mazy Gilleylen.

Mazy loves typical kid stuff, like  singing, drawing and taking care of her pets. But she was living with a secret, and that meant life wasn't always this good. Telling the truth — with her family’s support — made things better, and made her a film star.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

The term ‘non-audition’ as it applies to choral endeavors may conjure up images of off-key singing and uncoordinated dance moves. That’s certainly not the case with CHARIS — The St. Louis Women’s Chorus, said the group's president, Sharon Spurlock.

The documentary Major! features Major Griffin-Gracy, a long-time transgender activist.
Cinema St. Louis | Provided

When QFest debuted in 2008, its schedule of LGBT films was more about the “G” than any other letter. Few male or female characters were people of color.

But things are different now, according to Cinema St. Louis’ Chris Clark.

“The true minority of all, honestly, is white, gay men,” he said.

One artist's piece examines the history of suicide at the Golden Gate Bridge. The art includes netting, a map of San Francisco, suicide prevention phones, and a note explaining the piece.
Provided by Zoe Becker

Advocacy organization Metro Trans Umbrella Group's third annual art exhibit is open this month. The show focuses on lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans artists.

The show's curator Capella Marissa Huniwalt said the exhibit can bring unknown artists to a wider audience.

The North America Outgames in St. Louis would have featured several running events, including half and full marathons, as well as softball and swimming.
Courtesy STL Equality Games, LLC

The 3rd North America OutGames, which was to be held in St. Louis around Memorial Day weekend, has been canceled due to low registration numbers and lacking financial support.

PrideFest-goers in 2014 celebrated a second festival in downtown St. Louis, after many years of holidng it in Tower Grove Park.
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

“Solidarity” is the theme for this year’s PrideFest celebration at Soldiers' Memorial downtown.

Members of Pride St. Louis chose the theme to unite the LGBT community at a critical time, according to Pride St. Louis’ director of inclusion and diversity Leon Braxton.

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Legislation designed to allow business owners and clergy to refuse to participate in same-sex weddings is being blocked in the Missouri Senate.

Senate Joint Resolution 39 is a proposed constitutional amendment that would bar the state from "penalizing clergy, religious organizations, and certain individuals for their religious beliefs concerning marriage between two people of the same sex."

Steph Perkins
Provided by PROMO

PROMO, Missouri's statewide advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality, has named Steph Perkins, 31, as its new Executive Director.  

Perkins has been with the organization for seven years. The new Executive Director said he intends to pay attention to issues like discriminatory legislation and health care as well as day-to-day inequalities. 

Ka'Milla McMiller is an organizer with the Missouri Gay Straight Alliance Network.
Carolina Hidalgo / St. Louis Public Radio

What’s it like to live in fear, every day?  To know you’re a target just by being yourself? To understand that being attractive could kill you?

Ka’Milla McMiller of south St. Louis knows. As a young transgender woman of color, she can’t stop thinking about her safety, especially after what happened last year.

Steven Louis Brawley and Nancy Fowler.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Author Steven Louis Brawley said that at the first Pride parade held in St. Louis, in 1980, many participants had to disguise themselves with painted faces and masks as they were worried about what repercussions revealing their sexual orientation would have.

Times have changed. On June 25, 2014 four same-sex couples married in St. Louis City Hall despite Missouri’s constitutional ban on gay marriage. A little over a year later, on July 26, 2015, the Supreme Court struck down state bans on same-sex marriage, ensuring same-sex couples could marry the country over. 

Provided by Lifting Up Lila event

During the 2016 legislative session, Missouri lawmakers are likely to debate a bill that would bar transgender students from public school restrooms and other facilities designed for the gender with which they identify. If passed and implemented, the measure could potentially violate federal law under Title IX.

Dozens brought shovels and rakes to an Oct. 18 tree-planting event. The sign reads, "They tried to bury us. They didn't know we were seeds."
Transgender Memorial Garden organization

A symbol of new life will officially launch in St. Louis on a day set aside for commemorating violent deaths. Organizers and the public will dedicate the new Transgender Memorial Garden on Friday, the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance.

via Flickr/BluEyedA73

A Kansas City-area man cannot sue his former employer for discrimination because Missouri's legal definition of discrimination does not include sexual orientation; so says the state's western district appeals court.

James Pittman's lawsuit claimed that, because he is gay, he was fired from Cook Paper Recycling and was subjected to a hostile work environment.  His case was dismissed by a lower court nearly two years ago, in part because sexual orientation is not included in Missouri's definition of discrimination.

Panelist Dr. Karen Edison, who helps create health policy surveys at the University of Missouri, said she was once threatened with a loss of funding for including survey questions about sexual orientation. AJ Bockleman of PROMO sits to her right.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Sometimes, state and federal law are in conflict.

Rules for the protection of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is one example. Even though the federal government prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity on many counts, Missouri state law does not include those protections. 

Resolving those conflicts was the focus of a summit Wednesday between members of the LGBT community, their advocates and representatives from five federal agencies. 

Provided by Lifting Up Lila event

Hundreds of St. Louisans have pledged to rally around Lila Perry, a transgender student at Jefferson County’s Hillsboro High School.

A gathering called “Lifting up Lila” was set for 5 p.m. Sept. 4, in Hillsboro City Park. Supporters want to have their say after a group of students walked out in protest Monday when Perry said she planned to use the girls’ bathrooms and locker room. On Thursday night, a group of parents asked the school board to create a policy about who can use what restrooms.

Outgoing PROMO executive director A.J. Bockelman
Provided by PROMO

The executive director of Missouri’s statewide organization for LGBT equality is leaving his post at the end of October. But it's possible he might later continue his work in a different arena: Jefferson City.

A.J. Bockleman has been executive director of PROMO since 2007. He announced today he’s stepping down after eight years of what often felt like an uphill, non-stop fight for LGBT rights.

Jessica Liss (left), Michelle Smith (middle), and AJ Bockelman (right) joined "St. Louis on the Air" in studio.
Áine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio

Awareness of transgender individuals and trans* issues has grown substantially in the past couple of years, but for many people—transgender and cisgender alike—uncertainty still prevails.

From the June 2015 Pride Parade
Sayer Johnson

They’re last in the LGBT acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender and they were nearly last in this year’s St. Louis Pride Parade. Now the local transgender community is taking the lead.

They’re making themselves known and making plans to open a community center. It's an effort spearheaded by an organization called the Metro Trans Umbrella Group, or MTUG.

Dr. Wes Crenshaw joined "St. Louis on the Air" in studio.
Áine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio

It may be easier than ever before for young people to be open and curious about their sexuality; or at least, Julia Poe of Prairie Village, Kansas seems to think so. Poe identifies as bisexual and believes that for people of her generation, coming out is becoming more common and less traumatic—just as same-sex marriage, recently legalized across the country, is increasingly frequent and accepted.

Monica Rea, left, and Pam Grakanoff lean back from a kiss after exchanging rings Saturday, June 27, 2015 at St. Louis City Hall.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 9:22 Sunday, June 28 with confirmed number of participants.

The St. Louis City Hall Rotunda echoed with laughter and cheers Saturday as same-sex couples were legally married. The ceremony took place just one day after the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide.

Monica Rea and Pam Graklanoff were one of twelve couples who exchanged wedding vows.

Many children were in the crowd at City Hall Friday night.
Cindy Betz

A joyous throng filled the rotunda of St. Louis’s City Hall Friday night — on the eve of PrideFest — to celebrate the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage.

The court ruled Friday that all 50 states must allow these unions. They must also recognize such marriages performed in other states and countries.