LGBT

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: When Novak’s lesbian bar opened in 1996, same-sex sex was illegal, marriage equality was unheard of and I was a suburban stay-at-home mom, married to a man.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Although chances of passage this legislative session remain slim, bills to extend Missouri’s anti-discrimination protections to gays are still attracting a lot of attention in Jefferson City -- because of the number and prominence of their backers. Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster this week became the latest of three statewide Democratic officials – including Secretary of State Jason Kander and state Treasurer Clint Zweifel – who are featured in new videos promoting two companion bills (SB96 and HB615) that seek to prevent discrimination in housing, jobs and public accommodations on the basis of someone’s sexual orientation.

via Flickr/BluEyedA73

The executive director of the LGBT Center of St. Louis stepped down Monday. Leon Braxton Jr . turned in his resignation after the Board of Directors confronted him about personal uses of the organization's money. Colin Lovett, the president of the board, declined to specify what the money was used for. "It wasn't a ton," Lovett, the President of the Board said. "It was less than $5,000. They were personal in nature. And so it's somewhat of a personal in nature, that's all the detail we're...

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: As St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay heads into the final lap of his historic bid for a fourth four-year term, expect to hear a lot more about “sustainability,” his top campaign issue for the general election But “sustainability’’ – in a different sense – is also an apt word to describe the questions at City Hall, as the mayor, his allies and his political opponents recalibrate their relationships in the wake of his Democratic primary victory last week over Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed.

Will Copeland, at left, with his brothers at age 3 and, at right, age 4.
Provided by the Copeland family

The last time transgender teen William Copeland wore a dress was to his aunt’s commitment ceremony. The 5-year-old caved to parental pressure but on his terms: no bow in the back and only for the vows, not the reception. “Big mistake! Huge mistake!,” his mother Laurie Copeland winces. “ Why did he need to wear a dress to a lesbian wedding? They wouldn’t have cared if he’d worn a tux.” Despite any early missteps, if you could special-order a family for a transgender child, it would be the...

Dieta Pepsi, aka Leon Braxton, leads a conga line up North Grand Boulevard.
2013 File Photo | St. Louis Beacon

If you’re thirsty for a tall serving of sassy drag queen, Dieta Pepsi hits the spot. For nearly three decades, Dieta’s performed all over St. Louis, raising many thousands of dollars for local causes. Whether Dieta — aka Leon Braxton — is calling out bingo numbers or trivia questions, her unmistakable deep laugh and glamorously attired six-foot-three presence are ubiquitous in the St. Louis LGBT scene. It’s not unusual for gay men like Braxton to do drag (often attributed to an acronym from...

Kelly Hamilton
2013 File Photo | St. Louis Beacon

When Kelly Hamilton was 5, he stole his little brother’s tighty whities. He hid his bathing suit top, swearing it was lost when it was really stuffed in a drawer. Once, in their shared bed, he was surprised to hear his older sister say, “You know the doctors can turn you into a boy now.” Hamilton, a transgender man , doesn’t ever remember telling his sister he wanted to be a boy. Sometimes family just knows. But in 1980s Dallas, Texas, parents weren’t exactly embracing gender variance. “You...

Lindsay Toler
2013 File Photo | St. Louis Beacon

Twenty-six-year-old Lindsay Toler of Tower Grove calls herself queer. The Mizzou alum and journalist embraces this label even though she’s in a long-term, monogamous relationship with a man, and presents as the proverbial “girl next door.” “I was a debutante growing up, I was in a sorority in college; I’m really blonde, really white — I’ve got a lot of privilege,” Toler says. “But you don’t have to be ‘other’ to be queer — everybody gets to be queer.” Wait, what? Labeling one’s gender as...

via Flickr/BluEyedA73

The gay and lesbian community is pushing to be included in a state law to protect against discrimination. The nonpartisan political action committee Missourians for Equality is kicking off its statewide petition drive in several areas across The six-month old organization is seeking over 100,000 signatures for a ballot measure in the hopes of including gender identity and sexual discrimination into the state’s nondiscrimination policy. Executive director and co-founder Aaron Malin has been...

via Flickr/BluEyedA73

The Advocate has listed St. Louis as its number 15 pick on its list of the "Gayest Cities in America" for 2013. Ranking criteria included points for the number of LGBT elected officials, roller derby teams and "fabulous shopping," among others . St. Louis neighborhood areas and institutions within them were also recognized including The Grove, Soulard, Cherokee Street, the Central West End, South Grand and Lafayette Square. In late 2012, the Human Rights Campaign also gave St. Louis a score...

via Flickr/BluEyedA73

It was another year of incremental progress for the LGBT community in St. Louis. Three communities – Kirkwood , Maplewood and Ferguson – added sexual orientation to their anti-discrimination ordinances. So did St. Louis County . The gay rights group PROMO will continue to push for more in 2013. But its executive director AJ Bockleman, says it’s okay to first be satisfied with the results of 2012. “Our focus has been about expanding non-discrimination, so whether it was the most recent win...

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The Kirkwood City Council has voted unanimously to add sexual orientation and gender identity to its existing nondiscrimination policy, making Kirkwood the 10 th municipality in St. Louis County – and the 11 th in the region – to do so. Kirkwood’s action comes just weeks after the St. Louis County Council approved a similar measure. The city of St. Louis also has a similar ordinance, as does Kansas City, neighboring Jackson County, and the city of Columbia, Mo.

This Week's Politically Speaking Podcast

Nov 29, 2012

St. Louis Public Radio's Chris McDaniel joins the St. Louis Beacon's Jo Mannies and Jason Rosenbaum to talk about a few political issues. On this week's episode: Nixon taking a stance on Medicaid expansion, Missouri Republican plans to cut taxes and St. Louis County's LGBT non-discrimination ordinance. Follow Chris McDaniel on Twitter : @csmcdaniel Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter : @jmannies Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter : @jrosenbaum See more stories on issues and elections from St. Louis...

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

Michelle Smith is transgender. She came out early Tuesday night and was the first of 92 people who signed up to give public testimony. She had a steadfast delivery for the first part of her comments in favor of the ordinance. Then Smith started thinking about her friends and her voice got a little shaky. “I know a lot of transgender people who are scared every time they go to their job, I have a transgender friend who was fired,” Smith said. After two hours of public comments, the updated non...

(via Missouri Foundation for Health)

A recently released report shows there is a disparity in health care among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Missourians. The study by the Missouri Foundation for Health shows LGBT individuals have less access to health care and tend to be less healthy than the general population. Host Don Marsh talks with Ryan Barker, Director of Health Policy for the Missouri Foundation for Health, and A.J. Bockelman, Executive Director of PROMO , about the study and suggestions for improving health....

(via Missouri Foundation for Health)

Reporting from Jacob McCleland of KRCU used in this report. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Missourians have less access to healthcare and tend to be less healthy than the general population. That’s according to a new report by the Missouri Foundation for Health. The report finds LGBT individuals are less likely to seek preventative care, have higher rates of unhealthy behaviors like smoking, and are more likely to be physically assaulted at school. The LGBT community has a higher...

(Bill Raack/St. Louis Public Radio)

Supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community Friday called on St. Louis County and individual municipalities to enact anti-discrimination laws. Five area cities, including the city of St. Louis, have updated their discrimination ordinances to include protections for the LGBT community. Andrew Shaughnessy, with the LGBT advocacy group PROMO, says there are several others considering doing the same thing. They realize that not only is it good for the workplace but its also...

(via Office of Rep. Wyatt)

A Republican member of the Missouri House announced today that he is gay during a press conference on a bill that would limit public schools from discussing sexual orientation in the classroom. Zachary Wyatt of Kirksville told reporters he has deep regrets for not taking stands earlier against school bullying, and called for lawmakers to shelve the so-called dont say gay bill. With his disclosure today, Wyatt becomes the only current openly gay Republican state legislator in the nation. St. Louis Public Radios Marshall Griffin talked with Wyatt about the bill and his decision to come out.

(screen capture via Progress Missouri video)

Will be updated. Updated at 11:59 a.m. with information that Wyatt is the only current openly gay Republican state legislator in the nation. A Republican Missouri House member has announced publicly that he is gay and called upon GOP leaders to end legislation that would limit discussion of sexual orientation in public schools. Rep. Zachary Wyatt held a Capitol news conference Wednesday at which he said he was disclosing his sexual orientation for the first time. Wyatt and several other...

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

A lawsuit over access to LGBT-related websites at a mid-Missouri public school was heard today in federal court in Jefferson City. The case involves filtering software used by the Camdenton R-3 school districts library. The suit was filed by Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) and is backed by the American Civil Liberties Union . Tony Rothert, Legal Director of the ACLU of Eastern Missouri , says the Camdenton Schools library uses filtering software that blocks any mention of sex, not just pornography.

Matt and Tom Smith
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Beacon | File photo

In high school, Matthew Smith busied himself designing websites, taking photos and making pottery. His younger brother, Tom, played trombone in the school jazz band, worked on his Eagle Scout badge and concentrated on honors classes in math, physics and geometry. Like most teenagers preoccupied with their own pursuits, they didn't really notice anything unusual about their dad. But their friends did. "They'd say, 'Your dad doesn't have any hair on his legs. Your dad's hair is really long',"...

Michelle and Debbie Smith
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Beacon | File photo

Growing up with three brothers in a cramped house just outside Chicago, Michelle Smith delighted in the rare chance to slip into her mother's bra and black wig. As her heart pounded, her excitement was tempered only by the terror of being discovered. Had she been caught, Michelle feared her mother would not be amused by a 6-year-old's attempt to imitate mommy. That's because Michelle was being raised as a son. Her parents meant well. After all, at her birth, the doctor didn't hesitate before...

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