Connect with us

News

Gay former Ariz. lawmaker joins Biden administration

Arlando Teller represented Navajo Nation

Published

on

Former Arizona state Rep. Arlando Teller (Photo courtesy of Arlando Teller)

WASHINGTON — A gay Navajo man who was a member of the Arizona House of Representatives has joined the Biden administration.

Former state Rep. Arlando Teller will serve as the Transportation Department’s deputy assistant secretary for tribal affairs.

Teller was the deputy director of the Navajo Department of Transportation before his election to the Arizona House in 2018. He previously worked at two airports and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans).

 Teller on Monday officially resigned his seat.

“Elevating indigenous nations’ by the Biden administration only invigorates and encourages me to do more,” Teller told the Los Angeles Blade on Wednesday in a text message. “Representation matters.”

Teller served in the Arizona Legislature with five other openly gay men. He spoke with the Blade on the same day Vice President Harris swore in Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who is the first out person the U.S. Senate has confirmed to a Cabinet-level position.  

“Excited for the newest deputy assistant secretary at (U.S. Department of Transportation), the one and only Mr. Arlando Teller,” tweeted Arizona state Rep. Daniel Hernández, Jr., on Tuesday.

Teller last November tested positive for the coronavirus and spent several weeks in the hospital in Chinle, his hometown in northeastern Arizona that is in the Navajo Nation. Teller’s mother also contracted the disease and died in December at the same hospital to which he was admitted.

Teller for the time-being will work remotely from Arizona as he recovers from the coronavirus.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Ventura County

Chair of Ventura County Board of Supervisors killed in traffic accident

“Her kindness, love and deep compassion for the community was felt by everyone. She will be dearly missed”

Published

on

Chair of the Ventura County Board of Supervisors, Carmen Ramirez. (Photo Credit: County of Ventura, Calif.)

OXNARD, Ca. – The beloved chair of the Ventura County Board of Supervisors Carmen Ramirez was killed in a traffic accident in Oxnard Friday the Ventura County Star newspaper reported.

Ramirez, 73, had first served on the Oxnard City Council and then in November 2020, she became the first Latina in the county’s history to be elected supervisor. She achieved another first the Star reported when her fellow board members elected her as chairwoman of the powerful board becoming the first Latina to hold that position.

According to the Star, the crash occurred about 6:45 p.m. at Seventh and A streets in Oxnard. Oxnard Police Chief Jason Benites said the driver of the vehicle remained at the scene and was cooperative.

Ramirez was transported to Ventura County Medical Center in Ventura where she was pronounced dead at 7:17 p.m., the chief said.

The initial investigation determined that a large truck, driven by a 38-year-old man, was traveling westbound on Seventh Street toward A Street. Ramirez, who was reported to be crossing the intersection within the pedestrian crosswalk, was struck by the vehicle.  

In her official bio on her 2020 campaign website it noted that she grew up in the San Gabriel Valley with six siblings and worked in Ventura County since 1978. The county’s website states she served on the Oxnard City Council for 10 years.

Prior to being elected to the council in 2010, she worked as a longtime legal aid attorney serving low-income communities in Ventura County, her bio read.

“I offer my sincere condolences to her husband, Roy Prince, and her family,” said Oxnard Mayor John Zaragoza in a statement released Saturday. “We will miss Carmen tremendously. We worked together often, while I was serving as Supervisor and she was Oxnard’s Mayor Pro Tem, and this camaraderie continued when she was elected Supervisor and I served as Mayor. She was passionate about environmental justice and creating a better future for our City. Her kindness, love and deep compassion for the community was felt by everyone. She will be dearly missed.”

Interim County Executive Officer Sevet Johnson described Ramirez as “passionate” and “hard working,” calling her a huge advocate on climate issues as well as on behalf of her community and underserved populations.

“She was a powerhouse,” Johnson said.

“We were all blessed to have known her, blessed to have been her friend,” Supervisor Linda Parks said.

The LGBTQ community in Oxnard expressed its grief and condolences in a Facebook post writing:

“We, The city of Oxnard, and all of the people you have shined your light on are deeply saddened and in mourning from your loss. OxnardLGBTQ did not get the pleasure of knowing you, or work with you more thank we hoped for, but we knew you were a powerhouse, and major advocate for La Raza and our Queer community. You will be remembered by so many for all that you did and your legacy. Our sincere condolences to all of your family, friends and close acquainted. You will be truly missed. Descansa en paz Carmen Ramírez 🕊✊🏽❤️🌈

The City of Oxnard Police tweeted that a candlelight vigil will be held at Plaza Park in Oxnard in honor of Ramirez at 7 p.m.

Ramirez is survived by her husband, Roy Prince. She was predeceased by her brother Ricardo Ramirez.

Continue Reading

Long Beach

Long Beach Police need public’s help locating sexual assault suspect

Suspect described as a male White or Hispanic approximately 18-25 years old, between 5’10” to 5’11” in height, with a thin build, short hair

Published

on

Photo Credit: City of Long Beach Police Department/Facebook


LONG BEACH – (Press Release) The Long Beach Police Department is seeking the public’s help locating a male suspect involved in a sexual battery incident involving a minor.

On July 31, 2022, at approximately 1:30 p.m., officers responded to the 1100 block of East 4th Street regarding a sexual battery incident that had just occurred.

Upon arrival, officers learned the suspect initially followed the victim for several blocks. While following the victim, the suspect propositioned him and then grabbed his lower body. An altercation ensued, which resulted in the suspect striking the victim in the upper body before fleeing.

Detectives are releasing a photograph of the suspect from surveillance footage and video from the incident. The Long Beach Police Department requests information about this incident and/or the suspect’s identity.

The suspect is described as a male White or Hispanic (light complexion), approximately 18-25 years old, between 5’10” to 5’11” in height, with a thin build, short medium-length hair in a “comb over” style, and a light-colored mustache. The suspect wore a blue Dodgers T-shirt, light-colored pants, and black sandals. The suspect may have attended a party in the area before the assault.

Courtesy LBPD

To view a video of the suspect, click on the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-BbUCC7Lfk            

Anyone with information regarding the person responsible for these crimes should contact Sex Crimes Detective Monica Moore at (562) 570-5514 or Detective William Neal at (562) 570-5513.

Anonymous tips may be submitted through “LA Crime Stoppers” by calling 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), downloading the “P3 Tips” app to your smartphone (available at the Apple App store and Google Play), or visiting www.lacrimestoppers.org.

Continue Reading

Southern-Central Asia

Pakistan’s LGBTQ & intersex communities forge ahead

“Practicing construction of systems of protection for LGBTQ+ allied people requires a culturally sensitive & community-informed approach”

Published

on

LGBTQ and intersex activists in Pakistan (Photo courtesy of Hussain Zaidi)

KARACHI – Pakistan is a country that is notorious for its human rights violations, and the LGBTQ and intersex community is one of the most vulnerable groups in the country. Despite the challenges, the community is fighting for their rights and slowly making progress.

Since homosexuality is illegal in Pakistan, the LGBTQ and intersex community is often forced into hiding. This makes it difficult to estimate the size of the community, but it is thought that there are tens of thousands of LGBTQ and intersex people living in Pakistan. Many of them live in wealthy areas of Karachi, the country’s largest city, without fear, as do community members in similar parts of Pakistan.

The community, however, continues to face many challenges in Pakistan. They experience discrimination and violence both from individuals and the government. 

In 2018, for example, the Pakistani government passed a law under Section 377 of the country’s colonial-era penal code that made same-sex marriage punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Homosexuality remains criminalized in Pakistan.

In addition to the criminalization of LGBTQ and intersex Pakistanis, the community also continues to face discrimination and violence that family members often perpetuate.

Many LGBTQ and intersex people face verbal, emotional and even physical abuse from their families due to societal and religious pressures. This can lead to them dropping out of school or foregoing higher education altogether. 

Discrimination in the workplace and education system forces many LGBTQ and intersex Pakistanis to remain in the closet, and those who are out often cannot find work or continue their education. Access to health care — including testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases and infection — is an ongoing challenge.

A law that permits transgender people to legally change the gender on their national ID cards and other official documents, allows them to vote and bans discrimination based on gender identity in employment, health care, education and on public transportation took effect last year. Pakistan’s Supreme Court in 2009 ruled in favor of recognizing trans people as a third gender on identity cards. Discrimination against trans Pakistanis remains pervasive in spite of these advances.

Pakistan’s LGBTQ and intersex rights organizations fight for change

Some of the country’s LGBTQ and intersex advocacy groups organizations are based in Lahore, but most of them are in Karachi. 

Pakistan’s first gay rights organization was founded in Lahore in 1994. There are now more than 20 groups that are working to spread awareness and understanding about the LGBTQ and intersex community.

O, also known as O Collective, was founded in Lahore in March 2009 by activists dedicated to the protection of the rights of sexual minorities, specifically LGBTQ and intersex people. They are committed to the education and support of queer communities, sexual minorities, and their families and friends. O provides a safe space for the community to meet and discuss issues such as sexual health and legal rights.

The Naz Health Alliance is a public health NGO that works with the government and other stakeholders to provide technical assistance to public health programs, conduct research, provide capacity building, advocate for policy changes and social inclusion, and create awareness regarding the sexual health and human rights of MSM (men who have sex with men) and transgender communities. 

The group also works towards building a healthy and inclusive society by addressing social exclusion faced by the MSM and transgender community. Qasim Iqbal founded the Naz Health Alliance in 2011.

Uzma Yaqood founded the Forum for Dignity Initiatives in 2013.

FDI is a research and advocacy organization that aims to improve the lives of sexual and gender minorities in Pakistan through education, health and other social services that are sensitive to their respective identities. The organization works to ensure women, young people and trans individuals are able to live their lives without fear.

Jannat Ali — who describes herself as an “artivist” — is the executive director of Track T, a trans rights organization that is based in Lahore.

Her organization in 2018 organized Pakistan’s first-ever trans Pride parade that nearly 500 people attended. The country’s first-ever Pride parade — which violence marred — took place in Karachi the year before.

Ali in March 2021 launched a program with episodes on Instagram and YouTube. She is the first openly trans person to host her own show in Pakistan.

Jannat Ali at WorldPride 2021 in Copenhagen, Denmark (Photo courtesy of Jannat Ali)

Hussain Zaidi is a recent Swarthmore College graduate who has worked tirelessly to ensure trans people can access public health care in Pakistan. Zaidi spoke with the Washington Blade about how Pakistani’s view LGBTQ and intersex communities and what can be done to ensure their safety.

“LGBTQ+ communities are typically seen as communities adopting a Western framework for sexuality that is incongruent with the cultural norms within Pakistan,” said Zaidi. “There is an indigenous culture in Pakistan where queerness and trans bodies can thrive, but our conception of this cultural praxis and way removed from global narratives of LGBTQ+ freedom and self-autonomy.”

Zaidi added “labels for the LGBTQ+ community are considered illegitimate and propaganda arguing that Pakistani individuals on the queer/trans spectrum are coopting identities oriented towards Western frameworks and lenses.” 

“Even within communities that would be considered LGBTQ+, we see people rejecting the LGBTQ+ framework and instead arguing for the acceptance of local, indigenous praxis of transness and queerness,” added Zaidi. “So overall the social landscape of LGBTQ+ rights is complex and intersectional, with the perception of the label differing based on what class, status, educational level and background the Pakistani acting as the perceiver comes from.”

Zaidi said safety for LGBTQ and intersex Pakistanis “starts first by doing the work to understand how communities in Pakistan want to represent themselves in broader Pakistani culture.” 

“Practicing the construction of systems of protection for LGBTQ+ allied people requires a culturally sensitive and community-informed approach,” said Zaidi. “Often foreign organizations providing aid and support expect programming to revolve around terminologies and ideas that are globally accessible and originated from/digestible by the West. Due to this, the important work of understanding how to support existing communities in establishing and advocating for their identities and rights goes ignored or under-prioritized.” 

“By understanding what existing communities want, a community-informed strategy to safely advocate for LGBTQ+ aligned people can be implemented that also doesn’t put the community itself at risk in any way,” added Zaidi. “There are not many organizations doing work of this nature, due to the level of public censorship and policing that is arranged by dissenting opponents to the LGBTQ+ framework. By guaranteeing basic systems of protection and safety, we can expect the number of people and organizations committed to supporting variant sexual and gender identities to increase.” 

U.S., German embassies support LGBTQ, intersex activists

The U.S. Embassy in Pakistan works to raise awareness and understanding of LGBTQ and intersex issues and people in the country. 

It organizes community and educational events to build connections and support among LGBTQ and intersex Pakistanis and works to fight discrimination and oppression based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The embassy, which is located in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, in 2011 hosted an LGBTQ and intersex event.

“Mission Pakistan works to strengthen and support the LGBTQI+ community,” tweeted the embassy on May 17, which is the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia. “We strive every day to ensure the human rights of the LGBTQI+ community are respected and protected from oppression. We continue to press for full equality.”

The German Embassy in Karachi in 2021 also hosted an event for queer Pakistanis.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us @LosAngelesBlade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Popular