“Love, Simon” is a coming-of-age story, a romantic comedy, and a mystery. The film, opening March 16, is based on Becky Albertalli’s 2015 young adult novel, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. It’s the first major film which focuses on a teen’s coming out story.
Typically the gay character in a studio-backed teenage romance is the supportive best friend spouting quips and offering sage relationship or fashion advice. That is, unless he’s walking a darker path. An IMDB list of the best GLBT teenage movies, for example, begins with “My Own Private Idaho” (1991), about two hustlers. Films closer to the tone of “Love, Simon,” like “Edge of Seventeen” (1998) or “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” (2012), were released by boutique studios. Likewise, specialty divisions of major studios produced “Brokeback Mountain” and “Call Me by Your Name.” But the 17-year-old Simon Spier is reminiscent of the characters played by Molly Ringwald in the 1980s heyday of teenage romances like “Sixteen Candles,” “The Breakfast Club” and “Pretty in Pink.”
According to Sarah Kate Ellis, the president and chief executive of GLAAD, “Twenty percent of millennials identify as LGBTQ. Having a film available to them is a breakthrough.”
WATCH the trailer:
Love, Simon | Official Trailer 2 [HD] | 20th Century FOX - YouTube
A U.K. couple who married after adopting three siblings chose the two brothers to be best men and their sister a bridesmaid at their wedding ceremony. Rob and Bob married surrounded by friends, family and their children. The couple first started caring for the three siblings, aged 13, 12 and 10, in 2015 – but were allowed to permanently adopt them last year.
Students are banding together to show their support for popular athlete Jake Bain ahead of today’s planned protest by the Westboro Baptist Church. He is known as the star athlete at John Burroughs High School in Missouri. After coming out as gay at an all-school assembly, he’s now signing to play football with Indiana State.
“He is a great athlete, but he’s a better kid,” said Andy Abbott, Head of School at John Burroughs. “He’s a great student and he’s a great friend to his peers.”
The planning letter for the rally – sent to parents ahead of the protest – is quite extraordinary. It shows this community’s resistence to bigotry and hatred:
March 8, 2018
Dear JBS Families,
Since news broke that we will be visited by a hate group on Monday, March 12, we have received notes, e-mails, counsel and support from faculty, staff, parents, grandparents, alumni, clergy, neighbors, other schools, other businesses – from people throughout St. Louis, around the state, and around the country who have voiced their support for our LGBTQ+ community – and for ALL of our kids. It has been truly inspiring.
But most inspiring, I have to tell you, has been the response of our students. On Monday morning, I shared the news in assembly and there was a wide range of emotions: fear, sadness, anger. On Tuesday morning, however, more than 200 students showed up an hour before school to discuss the situation and talk about what our response should be. At assembly on Tuesday, one of our students spoke passionately and received a spontaneous and sustained standing ovation. He shared Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s words, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that,” and encouraged us to “shine our brightest lights next Monday.” On Wednesday, Diversity ETC student leaders spent their free afternoon processing the input they received and developing what Daniel Harris, our director of diversity, and I believe is a wonderfully thoughtful plan.
Many of you have been asking for updates, and here are the details as we currently know them:
From 7:45 to 8:15 am on Monday, March 12, members of the Westboro Baptist Church plan to picket Burroughs on the public sidewalk immediately west of our Clayton Road entrance.
Counter-protestors (Pride STL, et al.) may be on the public sidewalk immediately east of the entrance. We understand that there may be hundreds of counter-protestors.
Though we have no reason to anticipate violence of any kind, the Ladue Police Department will be present and visible to control the situation and facilitate traffic.
Our Top Priorities
The WBC wants us to engage with them. Our primary response will be to ignore them.
The most important thing we can do for our kids is make sure they feel safe, secure and supported. To that end, we want every student to find their own path. Monday will be a late day (with assembly beginning at 8:45 am). This will allow students who want to totally avoid the picket to come to school after the WBC has left. It will give students who want to assemble before school, the time to do so.
In addition to 17 members of the Ladue Police Department on and around campus, I am calling on the faculty and staff to be present in full force to provide emotional and logistical support for our students.
To avoid contact with the WBC, here are our suggestions for drop-off and parking:
If you drive your student/s to school, please drop them off at the main entrance or Schnuck Wing, both off Price Road.
Student drivers can park in the Price Road lots or in my front yard (accessed through the north entrance).
We will encourage faculty and staff to park in the Clayton Road lot.
The Student Plan
We expect a large number of students will participate in a 40-minute display of support for our LGBTQ+ community. They will gather at 7:30 am in Haertter Hall for readings, speeches and video clips from alum allies. Then they will make a unity walk from Haertter Hall to the football and field hockey fields and then to the Memorial Gym for a music-filled celebration.
Any students who feel the need to join the counter-protestors at the Clayton entrance will be accompanied and carefully supervised by senior administrators.
Throughout the day, there will be processing spaces available for kids to speak with one another and meet with counselors or other faculty.
How You Can Support Our Students
To be frank, our students want to own this day.
They have crafted a response to the WBC which avoids engaging with the WBC. Instead, their focus is on taking care of one another and celebrating the inclusive community they are building for all students at Burroughs.
Rather than additional adult presence, what they would most appreciate are notes, video clips, and any and all expressions of support, which can be sent to them via Daniel Harris.
Moreover, we have serious concerns about parking on that morning.
A Final Word
In our society, there is always room for respectful differences of opinion. But WBC is nothing more than a hate group. It maintains that God is punishing America because of its tolerance of the LGBTQ+ community. Their vitriolic speech extends to Catholics, Orthodox Christians, Muslims, Jews and U.S. soldiers. Their picketing forays average between six and 30 people (including their own children), and their modus operandi is to carry inflammatory signs to incite reactions from those they picket. It is crucial to note that WBC is not affiliated with any national Baptist organization. Our families, who come from many religious backgrounds, have been vocal and passionate about supporting our students and denouncing the WBC.
On March 12, WBC will be on a sidewalk outside of our campus for 30 minutes … and then they will be gone.
What we will remember is that our students responded with unity and care and courage.
Equality Florida will honor Emma Gonzalez, president of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Gay Straight Alliance and one of the many young people advocating for gun control in the wake of the mass shooting. Other student leaders and advisors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Gay/Straight Alliance will also be honored at their annual Miami gala.
GSA sponsors Diane Wolk-Rogers and Mario Caicedo will accept the Voice for Equality Award on behalf of the GSA and their students.
“Students from the GSA at Stoneman-Douglas High School are an integral part of the student-led movement that has been a catalyst for demanding action by politicians to confront gun violence. Equality Florida honors them and their advisors for their leadership, resolve and the clarity of their voices in launching the #NeverAgain movement,” said Nadine Smith, Executive Director of Equality Florida. “It will be an inspiring and moving evening as we celebrate the GSA along with SAVE and the Huizenga Family Foundation – these are the individuals and groups that will make Florida a more equitable, safe place for all of us. We are thrilled to honor their work,” concluded Smith.
For more information go to: equalityflorida.org/miamigala
A group of powerful activists is asking Amazon founder Jeffrey Bezos not to put a second Amazon.com headquarters in a state lacking legal protections for gay, lesbian and transgender people, urging the executive to use his company’s high-profile relocation to further a cause he has personally supported.
Eleven of the locations are in nine states – Florida, Georgia, Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia – that have not passed comprehensive legal protections for people based on their sexuality or gender.
Some additionally restrict adoption rights for gay couples, bar transgender people from using the bathrooms of their choice or banned cities from instituting equal rights protections of their own.
Bezos has been an ardent defender of gay rights for years. He and his wife, MacKenzie, donated $2.5 million in 2012 in support of same-sex marriage in Washington State and he received a national equality award last year from the Human Rights Campaign.
A Texas couple is suing for discrimination after a federally funded nonprofit told them they couldn’t foster refugee children because of their sexual orientation. Catholic Charities of Fort Worth told them they were ineligible — because their same-sex marriage “doesn’t mirror the Holy Family.”
Married couple Fatma Marouf, 41, and Bryn Esplin, 33, struggled to conceive a child through IVF, and hit roadblocks when they attempted to adopt a child domestically. So the women decided to foster a refugee child, hoping to bring a young person into their safe and loving home.
CCFW is the only organization in their area that provides refugee-fostering services, leaving Marouf and Esplin with no other options. The stunned pair reached out to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) to see if the response was even legal.
Now, the women are suing numerous government agencies, including the Department of Health and Human Services, as well as Catholic Charities, for discrimination.
Delivering a potentially serious blow to one of the fastest growing production hubs in the country, Walt Disney Co. is threatening to no longer film in the state of Georgia if an anti-gay bill is signed into law there.
The Free Exercise Protection Act is on the desk of Gov. Nathan Deal, who has until May 3 to decide whether to veto it. Hollywood business totaling billions of dollars could hang in the balance.
The measure, passed by Georgia lawmakers March 16, would offer protections to faith-based entities that refuse to provide services that they say violate their beliefs. If it becomes law, the proposed legislation would have the effect of beefing up legal safeguards for opponents of same-sex marriage.
Critics say the Free Exercise Protection Act promotes discrimination.
An Arizona woman is asking for full custody of her son, arguing that her ex-wife has no parental rights because she’s not biologically related to the child. Kimberly McLaughlin was artificially inseminated via an anonymous sperm donor in 2010. Last year, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that Suzan McLaughlin (pictured) has the same right to custody as if she has been the husband of her ex, Kimberly.
In 2015, the Miami Herald wrote a glowing profile about Morffi, after she started a program called #teachHope70x7 that encouraged kids to feed the homeless and “encourage hope” in the community. (The “70×7” references a bible passage about forgiveness.)
Archdiocese of Miami spokeswoman Mary Ross Agosta said, “As a teacher in a Catholic school their responsibility is partly for the spiritual growth of the children. One has to understand that in any corporation, institution or organization there are policies and procedures and teachings and traditions that are adhered to. If something along the way does not continue to stay within that contract, then we have no other choice.”
Florida remains one of the few states where employers can still fire someone based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Despite constant complaints and protests from LGBTQ activists, state lawmakers have refused to pass laws protecting employees from getting fired for coming out. The issue is even affecting state business: National LGBTQ groups are asking Amazon.com to avoid building its new headquarters in Florida because the state does not protect LGBTQ employees.