Brazilian Squatters Offer Shelter From Anti-LGBTQ Violence


A multi-colored gay pride flag hangs in a corner of a bare room in an abandoned Sao Paulo art deco building that was once the headquarters of Brazil’s social security agency.

The room is home to several members of Brazil’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community seeking refuge from discrimination and hate crimes against LGBT people.

They were invited to join some 300 squatters who have been living in the building for several months in an occupation organized by Front in the Fight for Housing, an activist group promoting rights of some 400,000 people without decent housing in Sao Paulo.

“The occupation is a space where we can feel safe,” Rodrigo, a tall shaven-headed gay man says as he strokes his black beard. “In the LGBT movement, we just want to live our lives and that means not having to be afraid of who is behind you.”

Brazil has one of the world’s highest rates of LGBT hate crimes, despite a reputation for sexual tolerance. The country recognized same-sex marriage in 2013 and hosts some of the world’s largest gay pride festivals.

Human rights groups including Amnesty International say homophobic violence is endemic in Brazil, where there were 326 murders in the community in 2014.

Some Evangelical pastors, who are becoming increasingly popular in Brazil, have adopted overtly homophobic rhetoric.

Luciana Jesus Silva, a bisexual woman and organizer of the occupation, asked the FLM to offer space to LGBT people after she learned that one of her gay friends had been hospitalized after a hate attack only to have his mother throw him out of the house, saying he was the work of the devil.

“We who are the most marginalized and repressed by society have to stand together,” said Silva, 45, a mother of four.

More than two dozen LGBT people have joined the occupation, though many more come.

The occupation of several buildings in central Sao Paulo has lasted several months because of a Brazilian law that makes it hard to evict squatters. The Front in the Fight for Housing offers families an escape from violence-plagued slums that ring the metropolis.

Rodrigo lounges on a mattress with Wam, 24, and Teflon, 19, whose colorful turban and brightly patterned clothing strike a contrast with the drab abandoned apartment.

They stage an impromptu fashion display. He strikes a pose, with his arms languidly outstretched like the wings of a crane, his legs crossed. Makeup and clothes are an act of defiance for some LGBT people.

Jorge, 31, teaches drawing to the children in a vacant apartment. Gaby, 18, cooks dinner in a large communal pot from which residents are served. With scant furniture in the building, some eat standing up or sitting on the floor.

In the evening, Rodrigo and his friends head to Arouche square in downtown Sao Paulo, a gathering point for the LGBT community.

Gaby does her makeup in the dimly lit room before going out. Rodrigo, Teflon and Fernando don high heels and flowing robes, their appearance turning heads on the graffiti-marred streets.

The small square, marked by a lamppost adorned with a gay-pride flag, is a place to make friends, share experiences and discuss gay rights.

“It’s not my fault that I live in a society with an empty heart and mind,” laments Fernanda, a 20-year-old black transgender woman.

She says her appearance makes finding a job almost impossible.

“It’s harder being trans than being gay because if you’re gay you still have a masculine appearance,” she says. “My appearance is my own creation.”


(Reporting by Nacho Doce; Writing by Daniel Flynn; Editing by Jim Finkle)

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Co-Sponsor Of Heartbeat Bill ‘Never Even Thought About’ Why Women Get Abortions

This week, Ohio legislators passed one of the most extreme anti-abortion laws in the country. If Gov. John Kasich signs the bill into law, it would ban abortion whenever a fetal heartbeat is detected ― which can occur as early as six weeks into pregnancy. The measure does not include any exceptions for rape or incest, and many women do not even know they are pregnant until more than six weeks into a pregnancy.

The effect would be a draconian restriction on the ability of Ohio women to have abortions ― an act that would have far-reaching consequences for many women. But one of the bill’s strongest proponents has “never even thought about” why women might want to get abortions in the first place.

Rep. Jim Buchy, a Republican member of the Ohio House of Representatives, is a staunch anti-abortion advocate. According to NPR, he argued that the Ohio legislature needed to pass the Heartbeat Bill in order “to give people the incentive to be more responsible.” One would assume (hope?) that Buchy has given the issue of abortion a lot of careful thought.

During an interview with Al Jazeera for the 2012 documentary “The Abortion War,” which was resurfaced by Rachel Maddow this week, Buchy was asked: “What do you think makes a woman want to have an abortion?”

His response was both depressing and eye-opening:

“Well, there’s probably a lot of reas— I’m not a woman,” he says, chuckling. “I’m thinking now if I’m a woman why would I want to get… Some of it has to do with economics. A lot of it has to do with economics. I don’t know. I’ve never ― It’s a question I’ve never even thought about.

There is a particular callousness in the admission that despite spending a considerable amount of time and energy advocating against access to a medical procedure which you will never need, you have never thought about what might motivate someone to seek it out. 

(For those who are still confused, here are just a few of the many, varied reasons women choose to have abortions.) 

Though women’s right to access abortion care has been legally protected on a federal level in the United States since Roe v. Wade in 1973, over the last five years, anti-abortion advocates have successfully passed hundreds of state-level measures meant to chip away at that right. And in the wake of Donald Trump’s election, anti-abortion advocates have been very clear that they feel the tide has turned in their favor.

Texas measure requiring fetal tissue be cremated or buried, as well as the Ohio Heartbeat Bill, seem to offer a peek into what reproductive rights might look like under a Trump-Pence administration. It’s pretty damn scary.


Clarification: Language has been changed to reflect more accurately the point in a pregnancy when a heartbeat is detectable.

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

The 20 Funniest Tweets From Women This Week

The ladies of Twitter never fail to brighten our days with their brilliant ― but succinct ― wisdom. Each week, HuffPost Women rounds up hilarious 140-character musings. For this week’s great tweets from women, scroll through the list below. Then visit our Funniest Tweets From Women page for our past collections.       

Yesterday I realized I could take salad dressing to work in those bottles made for traveling with shampoo. I am a genius

— Elise Foley (@elisefoley) December 6, 2016

What do you mean Kevin Hart is famous for being a comedian and not for being the first black elf

— ❤️ (@jodecicry) December 5, 2016

Drake got nominated for album of the year and Rihanna didn't. 2016 full of injustice and tragedy.

— Lauren Chanel Allen (@MichelleHux) December 6, 2016

Gummi vitamins are just desperation snacks

— Charlene deGuzman (@charstarlene) December 6, 2016

My favorite cruel act is referring to Game of Thrones as "Throne Games" in convos with men, having them correct me, then continue saying it.

— Alana Massey (@AlanaMassey) December 6, 2016

Borrowed my son's phone this morning. Hit me up, Harvard.

— Erica (@SCbchbum) December 6, 2016

get u a friend who will go through a stranger's complete social media and internet history with u

— Polly Mosendz (@polly) December 7, 2016

You know it's bad when you're too depressed to even pretend your life is perfect on Instagram

— Dana Schwartz (@DanaSchwartzzz) December 7, 2016

Mom: "And the men demanded that the women have the babies no matter what."
Daughter: "In olden times?"
Mom: "No, honey. That was yesterday."

— Allison Raskin (@AllisonRaskin) December 8, 2016

Apparently Tang and cough syrup "isn't considered punch" and is "inappropriate" for the office holiday party

— Angela Wheezy (@CarpeAngela) December 8, 2016

when you get interrupted while telling your grandkids a story about 2016

— Hannah Giorgis (@ethiopienne) December 8, 2016

My mantra used to be "Party like it's 1999" but now it's "Pretend it's 1999."

— Kendra Alvey (@Kendragarden) December 8, 2016

"That's a Nazi."
*Nazi puts on fedora*
"That's an international alt-right man of mystery."

— Kashana (@kashanacauley) December 4, 2016

I've decided to kill two birds with one stone and just put Christmas lights on the vacuum that's been in the living room for a week.

— Abby Heugel (@AbbyHasIssues) December 8, 2016

us on the way to the party: we're gonna make so many new friends

us at the party:

— Julia Bush (@jabush) December 8, 2016

does donald trump know he is staff at the white house not freelance

— Gabby Noone (@twelveoclocke) December 8, 2016

I'm allowed to love one dumb person and guess what guys it's gonna be me

— Brittani Nichols (@BisHilarious) December 7, 2016

your news so fake it complimented my shoes without looking at them

— Morgan Murphy (@morgan_murphy) December 9, 2016

If anything ever happens to me, please tell everyone that I hate James Franco.

— Monica Ann (@Monicann86) December 9, 2016

*wakes up*

*trump is person of the year, abortion basically banned in ohio*

*goes back 2 sleep sets snooze for 2020*

— Jessica Samakow (@jsam1126) December 7, 2016

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

11 Black Athletes & Celebs Who Took A Stand Against Injustice In 2016

2016 marked another year marred by social injustices ― from the Flint water crisis to a string of fatal police shootings, among others. Such events served as a rallying call for some of our favorite entertainers and sports figures.

Here are 11 black athletes and celebrities who took a stance against injustice in 2016.

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Wants A Meeting With Donald Trump

Water protectors protesting the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline under Lake Oahe in North Dakota won a significant victory this week, when the Department of the Army announced that it would not grant the project’s final easement.

But tribal leadership understands this win is only temporary.

The victory seems especially fragile given that President-elect Donald Trump — who owns stock in the companies building the pipeline — supports the stalled project. His incoming administration is expected to offer fewer obstacles to the project’s completion, once Trump takes office next month.

Yet Standing Rock Sioux chairman Dave Archambault II, whose tribe has been fighting the controversial pipeline for months now, says he’s still hoping to build a relationship with the Trump administration.

Specifically, he would like to meet with Trump to discuss the topic in person.

“We would welcome a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump so that I can share with him and build his awareness about the real issues here,” Archambault told The Huffington Post on Thursday. “I think we can help the president-elect and his legacy if he’s willing to sit down and be open with us.”

Archambault noted that the tribe has not yet had any interaction with Trump or his presidential transition team.

A Trump spokesperson did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.

Meanwhile, Archambault acknowledged that blizzard conditions and freezing temperatures have taken a toll on the Oceti Sakowin camp in recent days ― which is partly why the chairman has called on the camp’s water protectors to go home.

Many protesters appear prepared to stay put nonetheless.

“The fight is not here right now,” Archambault said. “I’m not going to say this fight is over. We still have work to do, but I think it’s a matter of helping people understand what happened and why it happened.”

The future of the pipeline will remain unclear until the Army Corps clarifies what specific steps it plans to take regarding the easement.

In a statement provided to HuffPost, an Army Corps spokeswoman noted that its announcement earlier this week was a “policy decision” made because “the totality of circumstances call for additional analysis, a more robust consideration of alternatives, and additional public information.” The Army is now beginning an environmental review to determine such information.

That decision, says Sierra Club attorney Doug Hayes, did not actually indicate that the Army Corps has denied the easement, contrary to widespread media reports.

“The easement decision is still pending,” Hayes told HuffPost. “The decision not to grant the easement and instead to prepare an environmental impact statement is not the same thing as denying it.”

The process of preparing an environmental impact statement is expected to delay the pipeline’s construction by at least another several months. Its operators, Energy Transfer Partners, had previously planned to have the project up and running by year’s end, per the terms of its contracts with shippers relying on the pipeline to transport crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken field to a refinery in central Illinois.

Energy Transfer Partners said this week that the Army Corps’ decision is “just the latest in a series of overt and transparent political actions by an administration which has abandoned the rule of law in favor of currying favor with a narrow and extreme political constituency.”

The company, which is pursuing a court order to force the construction to continue, said it does not foresee “any additional rerouting” of the pipeline and expects to complete the project as it is currently planned.

type=type=RelatedArticlesblockTitle=Related… + articlesList=5844882be4b0c68e04817323,5841d8f9e4b09e21702e8f58,57d9daeae4b08cb14093c741

Delays in the construction of the 1,200-mile pipeline have already cost the company a reported $450 million.

The site of the pipeline’s planned crossing of Lake Oahe at the Missouri River, just north of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, has attracted thousands of visitors in support of the tribe in recent months. Many of them have taken up residence for weeks or months at a time in a protest camp filled with tents and other impromptu lodgings.

The water protectors say they are concerned the pipeline will disturb burial grounds and sacred lands protected under the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie, as well as threatening the safety of their water supply. Energy Transfer Partners has called such concerns “unfounded.”

Joseph Erbentraut covers promising innovations and challenges in the areas of food and water. In addition, Erbentraut explores the evolving ways Americans are identifying and defining themselves. Follow Erbentraut on Twitter at @robojojo. Tips? Email

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

This Country’s Capital Just Made It Punishable To Catcall Women

Buenos Aires has taken legal action in changing a culture that normalizes sexual harassment.

A law passed by the Argentine capital’s legislative body on Wednesday forbids catcalling and other forms of harassment in public, with perpetrators facing up to a $1,000 peso fine (around $60 USD), according La Nación. 

The lawmaker behind the bill, Pablo Ferreryra, told the Argentine newspaper the objective is “to prevent and punish sexual harassment that occurs in public spaces or places accessible to the public in which harassment, ill-treatment or intimidation affects the general dignity, freedom of transit and the right of a person’s physical or moral integrity based on their gender, identity or sexual orientation.” 

The law stipulates that harassment goes beyond catcalling, including indirect or direct references to a person’s body, photographing or filming private parts without consent, improper or unwelcome physical contact, persecution or cornering of a victim; masturbation and indecent exposure. 

“Street harassment is deeply violent because it is an unwanted and undesired practice that has negative psychological impact,” Ferreryra told La Nación.

It’s an important move for Buenos Aires, whose former mayor Mauricio Macri was criticized in 2014 for saying on radio he didn’t believe women who said they didn’t like being catcalled, even when comments were accompanied by crude language like “what a nice ass you have.” Macri became president of Argentina in 2015. 

The need to change sexist or misogynist attitudes has become an important topic in the country, particularly after the rape and murder of a 16-year-old girl in Argentina’s coast sparked protests and outrage across Latin America in October. The powerful #NiUnaMenos (#NotOneMore) movement was also evoked after a 7-year-old indigenous girl in Colombia’s capital was kidnapped, raped and murdered on Dec. 4. 

The new Buenos Aires law could also force offenders to do community service, according to the BBC, and it plans to go beyond punishing transgressors by also facilitating public education campaigns aimed at changing cultural attitudes that normalize sexual harassment.

Ferreryra even responded to those who defended catcalling as a cultural norm. 

“Some manifestations of sexual harassment are accepted as folkloric or traditional, and that should not be an argument to tolerate this transgression,” he said. “No form of violence should be sponsored with pride by any society.” 

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

This Is Ikea’s Attempt To Solve Your Annoying Relationship Problems

Having relationship problems? Ikea wants to help. (Which is ironic, since everyone knows Ikea is the place where relationships go to die.) 

In its new ad campaign, “Retail Therapy, the Swedish superstore renamed its products to match the most commonly searched relationship problems in Sweden. Then they created a site,, to sell them all. 

Now when you Google things like “He Doesn’t Want To Move In Together,” the search results include a link to a handy tooth brush holder: 

Other renamed products include the “My Partner Snores” daybed and the “He Doesn’t Text Back” USB charger:

Well played, Ikea. 

Watch the video below for more on the clever campaign or head to to see the full product listings. 

H/T Ad Week 

type=type=RelatedArticlesblockTitle=Related Stories + articlesList=57ea9274e4b082aad9b718ce,5820daf1e4b0102262411b8a,57c4835be4b0c936aaba6912,56c34eaae4b0c3c55052a74e

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Lane Bryant’s Unretouched Ad Celebrates Women, Stretch Marks And All

Lane Bryant typically garners attention for the statements it makes with its campaigns. Now, it’s going viral for not saying anything at all.

Denise Bidot, plus-size model and founder of the “There Is No Wrong Way To Be A Woman” movement, is the subject of a photo Lane Bryant posted to its Instagram account on Thursday.

Clad in a two-piece bathing suit and a cover up, you might not even notice that the image hasn’t been retouched, or that Bidot’s stretch marks are fully visible in the shot. 

The brand makes no mention of the stretch marks, instead focusing on what’s really important, that “It’s December. It’s Wednesday. We all need a break.” In an e-mail to The Huffington Post, CMO and EVP of marketing Brian Beitler explained that the idea behind the image is pretty simple.

“We at Lane Bryant simply believe that all women should be seen and celebrated as they are. Society and the media continuously project an unrealistic and frankly out-dated beauty and body standard,” he said.

Bidot later posted the photo to her own Instagram, praising it for “how real it is” and thanking the brand for loving her body, “stretch marks and all.”

The model, who has also starred in campaign images for Old Navy and Nordstrom, is joined by the likes of Danielle Brooks, Ashley Graham and Gabourey Sidibe in working with the brand. Beitler told The Huffington Post that these women “are breaking boundaries with their confidence and talent” and “will continue to promote body-inclusion in fashion and media.”

We’ll be waiting with open arms for the next one.

type=type=RelatedArticlesblockTitle=Related… + articlesList=583efde8e4b0c33c8e134d4e,56b940d1e4b04f9b57dae80a,55c93fd4e4b0f73b20ba788b

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Dorothea Lange’s Photos Of Imprisoned Japanese-Americans Need To Be Seen

Photographer Dorothea Lange, well-known as a documenter of the Great Depression for the Farm Security Administration, captured the plight of poverty-stricken Americans with empathy, respect, and unflinching honesty. Her most famous work, “Migrant Mother,” reflecting the desperation and resilience of a mother working as a pea-picker, has become the defining image of that grim era in U.S. history. 

She is lesser recognized, however, for her work chronicling the prison camps in California, as well as Washington, Oregon, and Arizona, where people of Japanese ancestry were incarcerated between 1942 and 1946 ― reportedly because the works were quietly censored by military commanders who reviewed and disapproved of the work. 

Directly following the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, American military police began the systematic imprisonment of Japanese-Americans. A chilling FBI report from the time reads: “It is said, and no doubt with considerable truth, that every Japanese in the United States who can read and write is a member of the Japanese intelligence system.”

In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which, according to PBS, “permitted the military to circumvent the constitutional safeguards of American citizens in the name of national defense,” calling for the evacuation and imprisonment of Japanese-Americans.

Over 120,000 persons of Japanese descent, many of them children, were required by the military to evacuate their homes and businesses and relocate to prison camps, where they lived surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards for up to four years. Some, however, died in the camps due to lack of medical care, emotional stress, or were killed by military guards. Over two-thirds of those incarcerated were American citizens.

Lange, renowned for her work for the FSA, was recruited to create a photographic record of the “evacuation and relocation” processes by The War Relocation Authority. Despite, or perhaps because of, Lange’s moral objection to the prison camps, she obliged. Lange visited cities around California, photographing Japanese-Americans packing up their belongings, being packed onto buses, and shuttling to ramshackle temporary housing facilities. 

She made a visit to one of the nation’s largest camps, Manzanar, in the Southern California desert, where she documented without reservation the conditions under which people were forced to live. By the time the camps were decommissioned, Lange had taken over 800 photographs, images that objectively captured the humanity of their subjects and the brutality of their circumstances.

Some prisoners were supplied insufficient food and medical treatment, as well as substandard housing. Some, accused of resisting orders, were subjected to violence. Lange caught it all on camera. 

When the War Relocation Authority surveyed the photos, Lange’s political perspective was obvious. They promptly seized the images and, for decades, kept them from widespread public viewing. 

In 1946 the prison camps were decommissioned and detainees ― many of whom were impoverished, mentally ill, and elderly ― were released. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed a Civil Liberties Act declaring that the decision to incarcerate Japanese-Americans was spurred by “racial prejudice, wartime hysteria and a lack of political leadership,” formally apologizing to all living survivors. 

Lange’s photographs, both powerful works of documentary photography and searing reminders of our nation’s grave historical abuses, have been making the rounds online recently. The photographs have become disturbingly foreboding in the wake of retired Navy SEAL Carl Higbie’s comments citing the wartime incarceration of Japanese-Americans as “precedent” for creating a federal registry for immigrants from Muslim countries.

Furthermore, President-elect Donald Trump himself has stated that, had he been alive during World War II, he might have supported the imprisonment of Japanese-Americans. “I would have had to be there at the time to tell you, to give you a proper answer,” he said. 

As the country fearfully awaits what will become of the nation under a Trump presidency, Lange’s photos serve as a crucial reminder of what is possible when fear clouds judgment and hate obstructs human empathy. In the words of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: “Now is not the time to tiptoe around historical references … It is the astute response of those who know that history gives both context and warning.”

We’ve compiled some of Lange’s searing photos, drawn from the archives of the Library of Congress, here. Historical blogger Tim Chambers, who shared Lange’s work on his blog Anchor Editions, is currently selling Lange’s prints for $50, with half of all proceeds benefitting the ACLU, an organization that fought relentlessly against the unjust incarcerations and remains just as important today. 

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Geeky Gifts For Moms, Dads and Kids Who Are Serious About Fandom

What better time to celebrate your nerd pride than the holidays?

Whether you’re a Whovian, a Trekkie, a Potterhead or a fan of “Lord of the Rings,” “Game of Thrones” or “Star Wars,” we’ve got you covered for gifts for the family. And yes, that means moms, dads and kiddos. Multiple fandoms collide in your household? We’ve got gifts that reflect that, too.

Here are 23 gifts for families who are serious about their fandoms:

All prices reflect what was advertised at press time.

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Sherman Alexie Says Artists Under Trump Will Be ‘Noise-Canceling Headphones’

Since the election, one month ago today, many artists and writers have been grappling with their role in a United States under future President Donald Trump. In an interview with The Stranger earlier this week, author Sherman Alexie revealed his conclusion: “I’m not one of those artist-writers who thinks they have any real power,” he said. 

Alexie, the novelist and poet who wrote the frequently challenged and lauded The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian among other acclaimed works, told the Seattle alt-weekly that he did see a role for artists and authors in tough times ― just not necessarily a politically influential role:

I’m laughing because they’ve already begun the calls for Poets Against Trump anthologies ― talk about the most powerless gesture in the history of the world. But what we can do with art is become spiritual boosters. I think we can be spiritually nourishing even if we have no political power. We end up being the equivalent of noise-canceling headphones.

Anyone who has only made it through a flight with a screaming baby ― sanity intact ― thanks to noise-canceling headphones can surely attest to the spiritually nourishing value of such a device. 

That said, the phrase might lead casual observers to think Alexie expects artists and writers to shield their audiences from harsh reality. But in the rest of his interview, which discusses his podcast with novelist Jess Walter, “A Tiny Sense of Accomplishment,” he talks about cutting through the noise to discuss real issues, saying, “there’s a place for us as artists to talk about how our egalitarian liberal natures can help.”

He also gets real on who he thinks needs a talking to (”[t]he moderate working-class whites and the leftist Jill Stein voters”) and why he thinks it’s crazy not to just vote for the lesser of two evils (”All of us, at every point in the day — because we’re privileged fuckers — are compromising”).

Noise-canceling headphones aren’t earplugs, after all; they just block out the unnecessary and distracting noise so that the important dialogue can come through clearly. We could probably all use a little more of that right now. 

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

A Veteran LGBTQ Activist On Resistance And Key Lessons Of Political Backlash

If you’re a millennial, as I am, you likely haven’t personally experienced full-blown political backlash against LGBTQ rights in your lifetime. 

But the reality is that anti-LGBTQ backlash is something that the queer community should prepare for and anticipate in President-elect Donald Trump’s administration.

I recently sat down with Michelangelo Signorile for a candid conversation in an effort to understand and shine a light on queer experiences under other presidential administrations. During our discussion, the veteran activist, who has been involved in the community for over three decades and is HuffPost Queer Voices’ Editor-at-Large, chatted about his history fighting against institutions of power — including the religious right — the danger of minority tokenization and the lessons he thinks young queer people should take away from the experiences of those who have been through similar periods of retaliation against queer people in the past.

Signorile became a prominent member of AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) in the late ‘80s, a grassroots advocacy organization formed in 1987 in response to President Reagan’s refusal to adequately address the devastating AIDS crisis. ACT UP was ― and still is ― committed to effective, tangible political action, and has a history of engaging in creative, high-profile demonstrations, such as staging a “die-in” at President Bush’s vacation home in 1991 and disrupting the CBS evening broadcast to shout “Fight AIDS, not Arabs!” during the Gulf War.

Signorile believes that comparisons of the Reagan years and Trump’s rise are apt for a number of reasons, but perhaps most strikingly for the overwhelming support both men have received from the religious right, which gained relevance as a political force during Reagan’s campaign and remains a massive political force today. “They voted for Trump in ways that are comparable to or even surpassing any Republican presidential candidate before,” Signorile noted.

Much like Trump, Reagan made promises to the religious right while campaigning for president ― promises that ended up negatively affecting the most vulnerable Americans, particularly the LGBTQ community.

Signorile foresees this same pattern playing out under Trump, with the president-elect rewarding the religious right’s loyalty by selecting people who advocate for issues and policies important to their worldview to join his administration.

“Reagan stacked religious and conservative leaders through the agencies of the federal government,” Signorile explained. “Whether it was the National Institute of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Housing, the Department of Labor, the Department of Education ― which are all issues that would affect queer people – they all operated through the prism of these religious conservatives.”

With Trump in office, we may not see political leaders actively speaking out against queer rights or trying to sway public opinion against the queer community. Instead, people granted positions of power, Signorile thinks, will be given control of valuable and life-saving programs for LGBTQ people and other minority groups through governmental agencies, granting them the potential ability to roll-back or dismantle programs that benefit the most vulnerable Americans.

We can already see the foundation of this nightmare in Trump’s picks thus far. The notoriously anti-LGBTQ Ben Carson is slated to head Housing and Urban Development; Secretary of Education pick, Betsy DeVois, has a history of anti-gay activism, while Attorney General pick Jess Sessions voted to advance a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. And with Trump and Mike Pence, his dangerous, anti-LGBTQ vice president, leading the country, the list of appointees who oppose queer rights continues to grow

Signorile emphasized that the community must not only actively scrutinize these appointments, but also be critical of the tokenization of queer people ― gay men in particular ― as a smokescreen for severe anti-LGBTQ platforms.

Peter Thiel, who’s been named to Trump’s transition team, can be seen as an example of this tokenism, Signorile told me. The tech billionaire is perhaps best known in recent months for backing the lawsuit that bankrupted Gawker after he alleged that the company outed him.

“Using Peter Thiel was window dressing to say look, I brought a gay man on, first one I ever brought on. So is Donald Trump using the term LGBTQ,” Signorile said. “There was a time when maybe the Republicans didn’t say ‘black people’ or didn’t say African Americans. So this is suddenly seen as ‘oh my god’ but it’s nothing – it’s tokenism… what I’ve seen is Thiel believes that there should be very limited government. And where we’ve gone and where we need to go in this movement is federal protections and federal government doing the kind of work that helps people. And that’s what helped the Obama administration grow in all of the departments, and then Obama’s executive orders as well.” 

Reflecting on all of this is crucial to understanding the threats to queer rights going forward. There are also a number of important take-aways that can be gained from understanding the rich histories of queer organizing, protesting and resistance, all of which offer a valuable array of practices that can be implemented today.

For Signorile, there are four core messages from his years as a veteran activist that he’d like young queer people to consider and adopt.

1. Don’t Wait

The queer community waited too long to organize and act in the 1980s. Unfortunately, inaction only gave the Reagan administration and the religious right more power, Signorile said, and created space for exacerbated stigma against the LGBTQ community.

“Thankfully Larry Kramer fired people up and ACT UP formed,” Signorile reflected. “But it came very late and we should’ve started earlier. Don’t wait until they do things. Don’t listen to any of this ‘let him have a chance.’ I think people need to organize now… and I think the opportunity to do this now is so much greater and easier thankfully because of social media ― because we were doing it with wheat-pasting on the street [in the ‘80s]! We were handing out flyers.”

2. The Importance Of Intersectionality

As we saw with the wide-spread protests that took place in the wake of Trump’s election, this is an intersectional struggle, and intersectional resistance must follow suit. If you are a minority ― or someone who embodies a multiplicity of marginalized identities ― in this country, your rights and equality may soon be at risk. It’s important that we remember this as we engage in resistance against what is increasingly becoming a white nationalist hate movement.

“It has it be Latino queer people, it has to be African-American queer people, it has to be many other groups at the forefront who are going to be dealing with other oppressions from this administration,” Signorile elaborated. “Because I think ― especially among progressives ― we really have made just enormous strides. I mean, progressives and Democrats support queer equality! There isn’t going to be that sort of resistance that even we felt – we felt isolated, you know? Because we had to rebel against our own party! We were hated at that time. I think it’s different now. I think across millennials, it’s got to be across all of these groups. And there’s no reason why it can’t be because everyone does support each other’s agenda.”

3. Protest Creatively

Previous queer activists were creative in their protests in order to expand their reach and impact. Signorile believes we should follow in the steps of ACT UP’s highly visible forms of protest and consider the ways in which past demonstrations ― like protesting naked outside of Penn Station the night before the Republican National Convention in 2004 ― are still talked about today.

“The size of the protests and the types of protests are not as important as the creativity of the protest and the captivating nature of the protest,” Signorile said. “The whole idea of a protest is to hijack the media and change the discussion and get voices heard. And that can be done with a small number of people or large – large numbers of course always get attention. If thousands and thousands of people are on the doorstop of someone that gets attention. ACT UP often worked in large numbers, you know, invading the New York Stock exchange with many protestors outside. But at that same time, one solo activist literally got into the CBS evening news and got on camera!”

4. Remain Intergenerational In Our Resistance

It’s also critically important that we include the voices and perspectives of older leaders and activists who have fought anti-LGBTQ political backlash before in order to understand and engage the most effective forms of resistance. The LGBTQ community, after all, has a massive problem when it comes to intergenerational division and ageism.

“We need to include all of the older people,” Signorile explained. “ACT UP was people in their 60s and 70s and it was people who were 20. And it was every kind of person you could imagine – stockbrokers, feminists, academics, people working at Burger King, students – it was every kind of person because they all had knowledge and tools. So I think people need to think about doing something that can bring in people who have a lot of experience and knowledge but also who have different tools.”

No one knows for certain what is going to happen under a Trump administration. But one thing is clear: we can anticipate forthcoming political backlash, and our response matters.

We must learn the lessons of our shared history if we are going to change the future and not repeat the past.

Head here to read more about ACT UP and queer activism of the 1980s.

The Michelangelo Signorile Show broadcasts Monday through Friday, 3-6 p.m. ET (12-3 PT), on SiriusXM Progress 127 and can be heard across the continental United States and all of Canada. Follow Signorile on Twitter and Facebook.

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

IUCN: Giraffe population declined by 40 percent in last 30 years

Mexico City, Dec 7 (efe_epa).- The global population of giraffes has plummeted about 40 percent in the past 30 years and they are now listed as a “vulnerable” species on the latest Red List, said Wednesday the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) at the 13th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP13), held in Cancun, Mexico.