LGBTQ | St. Louis Public Radio

LGBTQ

Lawyers for Friendship Village retirement facility say the community’s decision to turn away the couple was due to the “faith-based nature of the organization.”
Friendship Village

Lawyers for Friendship Village have asked a federal court to dismiss a same-sex couple's discrimination lawsuit against the St. Louis County retirement community.

In a response filed Friday, lawyers for Friendship Village deny the facility discriminated against Mary Walsh and Beverly Nance on the basis of sex. The lawyers argue that the retirement community denied the couple housing based on the organization's religious convictions.

In denying their housing application in July 2016, the senior living community in Sunset Hills mailed the couple a copy of its “cohabitation policy,” which defines marriage as between a man and a woman as it is “understood in the Bible.”

The Missouri Supreme Court is expected to decide within months whether state law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. But the American Civil Liberties Union alleges in a lawsuit that the Missouri Commission on Human Rights has determined that LGBTQ people are not protected.

Jess Dugan took this photograph of Caprice, 55, in Chicago in 2015.
Jess Dugan and Vanessa Fabbre

From the beginning, St. Louisans Jess Dugan and Vanessa Fabbre were in step.

They met in 2012 while country line dancing, a shared passion, and it wasn’t long before they discovered more complementary interests. As their romance deepened, they began collaborating on a photography project and book featuring portraits of older transgender subjects. After moving from Chicago to St. Louis in 2014, they continued traveling the country to meet with subjects.

They’re celebrating the August publication of "To Survive on This Shore: Photographs and Interviews with Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Older Adults." An exhibition of some of the portraits will open Thursday at projects+gallery, 4733 McPherson Ave.

Beverly Nance and Mary Walsh pose for a portrait at their home in Shrewsbury on Aug. 28, 2018.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

After Mary Walsh and Beverly Nance were married in 2009, they thought their right to live together as a couple was secure.

Now the two women are at the center of a landmark legal case against a St. Louis County retirement community. The same-sex couple was denied housing at Friendship Village in 2016 on the basis of a “Cohabitation Policy” that defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman, “as marriage is understood in the Bible.”

Mourners gather to remember Kiwi Herring in August 2017, in this file photo.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Members of the LGBTQ community and others will gather Friday at Transgender Memorial Garden to commemorate Kiwi Herring, a black, transgender woman killed last year by police.

Two police officers shot Herring last August while they were investigating a reported stabbing in the apartment building where Herring lived with her partner and three children.

From left, Steph Perkins, Curtis Galloway and Emily Klamer joined Don Marsh for a discussion about LGBTQ mental health.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis on the Air

While LGBTQ Pride Month is typically a time for celebration among the local queer community, mourning has also marked this year’s observance as several St. Louis-area residents have died by suicide and overdose in the wake of national news of celebrity deaths.

“The numbers of suicide attempts and LGBTQ people taking their own lives is something like nine times the rate for trans people and three times the rate of the national average for LGB people, and it’s very much increased by victimization and discrimination that we face every day,” Steph Perkins said on Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air.

This image combines two portraits by different artists in the Metro Trans Umbrella Group's "Transcending the Spectrum" art exhibition.
Metro Trans Umbrella Group

Over the past five years, the Metro Trans Umbrella Group art show has more than doubled in size. This year’s event at Koken Art Factory in south St. Louis on Saturday boasts 35 visual artists and 25 stage performers.

The exhibition has expanded as more transgender artists feel safe to show their creations, according to curator Alex Johnmeyer and artist Eric Schoolcraft. But, they noted, growing visibility also highlights the dangers of being seen. To address that, organizers put a safety team in place to escort attendees to and from their cars.

The Supreme Court of Missouri
Flickr | david_shane

The Missouri Supreme Court on Wednesday will consider two cases that could have far-reaching implications for the civil rights protections granted to the state’s LGBTQ community.

The judges will be asked to determine whether the Missouri Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, even though the words are not in the act itself. Lower courts are split on the issue.

LGBTQ rights advocates have been pushing a measure they say would amend school code in a way that would be beneficial when it comes to noting the community's role in state and national history. Last week those representing groups like Equality Illinois urged lawmakers to pass the proposal, which has yet to reach a vote outside of committee.

School Illustration
Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

LGBTQ youth, particularly in the Midwest, suffer higher rates of bullying than their straight peers, which researchers say can have long-term negative effects on their academics.

Because bullying can lower self-esteem and discourage students from coming to school or engaging with peers, learning suffers. This is magnified for LGBTQ youth, according to Dana Peterson, a criminal justice professor at the State University of New York at Albany.

Shelley Richmond, a transgender woman, and her wife live in the same house in this Cahokia neighborhood where Richmond grew up.
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

Eighty-year-old Wisper Lowe, a transgender woman from Belleville, grew up during World War II, a period that demanded patriotism and strict gender roles.

Lowe was assigned male gender at birth. When she was 5, her mother caught her putting on lipstick.

“And her response was to smear the lipstick all over my mouth and then push me onto the front porch where all the neighborhood kids were playing in the street — and lock the door,” Lowe said.

Kevin Gardner is a Gateway Men's Chorus member and an Master Sergeant in the Air Force.
Carolina Hidalgo| St. Louis Public Radio

 

 

The deep camaraderie of singing with other gay men drew Kevin Gardner to St. Louis’ Gateway Men’s Chorus. Eleven years later, the Air Force Master Sergeant believes it’s time for the group to broaden its focus.

 

Erise Williams, wearing a gray and white striped shirt, stands by the window, talking with guests at Rustin's Place, a drop-in center  serving mostly young, black, gay men. January 2018
Erise Williams

Black History Month is a time to spotlight African-Americans who made a difference. But many people don’t know that prominent African-Americans were part of the LGBTQ community.

Among them was Bayard Rustin, an openly gay black man who worked side-by-side with the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.  The civil rights strategist who died in 1987 is honored every day at a little storefront in St. Louis’ Vandeventer neighborhood, called Rustin’s Place. It’s a drop-in center that largely serves LGBTQ people, particularly gay African-American men.

(L-R) Nancy Fowler, Steven Brawley and Miranda Rectenwald talk about the history of LGBTQ+ in St. Louis.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

Twenty years ago, St. Louis filmmaker Geoff Story went to an estate sale on Lindell Boulevard. There he picked up two canisters of home movies, not knowing what were on them. What Story found shocked him – dozens of gay men at a pool party in a remote location in Hillsboro, Missouri in 1945.

Check out Nancy Fowler’s story about the home movies revealing what is was like being gay in mid-century St. Louis.

This image is a still shot from home movies of a gay pool party in 1945 that St. Louis filmmaker Geoff Story bought in an estate sale.
Geoff Story

Dozens of gay men gather for a pool party in a secluded spot in Hillsboro, Missouri. Home movies capture their easy affection and carefree dancing. 

But they’re not recent videos. The movies were taken in 1945.

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The Gender Workbook for Kids will be published in April.
Kelly Storck

Children who grapple with their gender identity often start asking questions in their toddler years.

They may demand parents call them "her" instead of "him," or insist they’re a boy after they were assigned female gender at birth.

These declarations make sense to St. Louis therapist Kelly Storck, who has worked with children and parents for 20 years.  But the topic of gender doesn’t always make sense to kids, or even the adults in their lives. That’s why Storck wrote her new book “The Gender Identity Workbook for Kids: A Guide to Exploring Who You Are.”

Mazy Gilleylen (standing in front), a transgender girl from Overland, cemmemorates lives lost with her brother Seth and parents Amber and Donte Gilleylen, on the 2015 Transgender Day of Remembrance at the Transgender Memorial Garden.
File photo | Provided | Yuting Jiang

So far this year, at least 25 transgender people have been murdered across the country, two in Missouri, one  of which was in St. Louis.

On Monday, supporters in the St. Louis area will pay tribute to those victims as part of a national effort, the Transgender Day of Remembrance. The annual event is held every Nov. 20.

File photo. Cathy Serino, a transgender veteran, served 12 years in the United States National Guard. She now lives in Columbia, Missouri.
Brit Hanson | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis transgender community and others are cheering a ruling that blocks President Donald Trump’s attempt to ban trans people from serving in the military.

Monday’s decision by a federal court judge in Washington, D.C. will allow transgender people to continue serving for the foreseeable future.

After protesting the presence of Westboro Baptist Church members outside Busch Stadium on Cardinals Pride Night, demonstrators lie in the street in honor of Kiwi Herring, a black trans woman who was killed by St. Louis police this week. Aug. 25, 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis Cardinals held their first Pride Night at Busch Stadium on Friday.

The Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church had promised a protest and delivered a small one. Six church members stood across from the stadium at Clark St. and Broadway Ave. before the game holding up signs.

But the anti-LGBTQ protest was hard to notice behind the sea of counterprotesters standing in front of them.

Mazy Gilleylen bounces on a trampoline outside her home in Overland. Summer 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Mazy Gilleylen of Overland is looking forward to her 12th birthday in September. But she’s dreading what comes next.

Approaching puberty is alarming for transgender kids like Mazy. To them, the changes can feel like like a betrayal of who they really are. Doctors can prescribe puberty-blocking drugs to prevent unwanted prevent breast growth or a deepening voice. But the cost is out of reach for many families.

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