News: New Miss USA supports transgender inclusion, June 5, 2012

Olivia Culpo dodged a potential land mine on her way to being crowned Miss USA Sunday night. The 20-year-old Boston University sophomore demonstrated both poise and acceptance in responding to a question regarding potential transgender participation in the Miss USA pageant.

The question presented to the Miss Rhode Island representative, easily the most challenging of the night, was submitted by a Twitter user and posited, “Would you feel it would be fair that a transgender woman wins the Miss USA title over a natural-born woman?”

Without missing a beat Culpo responded, “I do think that that would be fair, but I can understand that people would be a little apprehensive to take that road because there is a tradition of natural-born women, but today where there are so many surgeries and so many people out there who have a need to change for a happier life, I do accept that because I believe it’s a free country,”

Culpo, who cited Audrey Hepburn as her source of inspiration, demonstrated an outgoing personality throughout the competition, blowing a kiss as she shimmied across the stage during the contest’s opening number.

Culpo will represent the United States in the 61st Miss Universe pageant later this year though she’s not expected to showcase a unique talent revealed by pageant organizers — apparently our new Miss USA “can tie a cherry stem with her tongue,” a feat which will no doubt boost her popularity on the party circuit.

Pennsylvania newspaper refuses to print same-sex wedding announcement
Jeff Clouser and his partner Brent Weaver learned that all wedding announcements are not created equal in Lancaster, Penn. The couple submitted their announcement, along with the requisite $25 fee, to the “Lancaster Sunday News” only to be snubbed by the paper’s ad department via an email which indicated that the announcement was “not consistent with prevailing community standards.”

Clouser and Weaver have been together seven years and hope to marry in a state that has legalized marriage equality.

One local resident, Scott Shumaker, has initiated a petition asking the newspaper to reconsider its position. Shumaker said that he expected his local periodical to be a little more progressive given the presence of “major art institutions and universities” in Lancaster, but a statement issued by Lancaster Newspapers’ CEO Harold E. Miller would lead one to think otherwise.

“Our readers have come to depend upon our judgment, taste, tone and discretion in publishing advertising to be admitted into their homes,” Miller said. “They select our newspapers because of these qualities and we believe we are obligated to uphold their selection by declining to publish advertising announcements and notices which, in our opinion, are not consistent with prevailing community standards.”

Wait until Lancaster, Penn, native Suzanne Westenhoefer hears about this.

Utah library restricts book about lesbian family
What does “In Our Mothers’ House,” a children’s book by Patricia Polacco about a lesbian family, have in common with a school field trip? Both now require a permission slip in one Utah school district.

The book was originally added to the collections at five of the Davis School District’s 50 elementary schools in June 2010 in an effort to be inclusive after administrators learned that a student was being raised by two mothers. However, after receiving a complaint from a parent whose child recently brought the book home a decision was made to remove the book from shelves.

“The book is still in the library and children can still have access to the book as long as they have written permission from their parents,” said Chris Williams, a spokesman for the Davis School District, which covers an area north of Salt Lake City.

No similar restrictions have been placed on any other titles in the district’s library collections, Williams said.

Mormons join in Utah Gay Pride Parade
In brighter Utah news, over 300 Mormon straight allies marched in Sunday’s Gay Pride Parade in Salt Lake City, demonstrating their support for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. The participation by members of Mormons Building Bridges marked the first time such a large group of Mormons took part in the parade and drew tears and shouts of approval from parade spectators.

A tale of two New Jersey (Housewives) families
“Real Housewives of New Jersey” (RHONJ) fans were treated to a mixed bag on Sunday night as Teresa Giudice’s husband Joe renewed his boorish gay-bashing behavior while break-out star Rosie Pierri shared a poignant coming-out moment with her niece and nephew earlier in the show.

With Giudice previously having come under fire for anti-gay comments, his inappropriate remarks while attending the wedding of cast member Caroline Manzo’s brother, Jamie, weren’t completely unexpected. Prior to the wedding Giudice held court with a tale about “the gayest thing I ever did as a kid,” during which he shared with Jamie and his partner, Rich, that he and a friend had once compared the size of their male members.

Later Giudice harangued gay Manzo family friend, Greg Bennett, by asserting “You’ve probably got the loosest butthole here.”

Meanwhile, in a more touching exchange, Pierri came out to her teenaged niece and nephew sharing her personal struggle with coming to terms about her sexuality. Pierri, the sister of “RHONJ” star Kathy Wakile, later addressed her decision to come out to Kathy’s kids on TV, saying that even with the little exposure she had on last season, it was possible they could find out through the internet or tabloids.

“I didn’t want them to find out that way,” she said. “They don’t look at me like that; they look at me as their Aunt Rosie. They see me as funny, happy, having a good time, kidding around. That’s what they see. They don’t see somebody who is gay or not gay; they have loving hearts.”

Both teens seemed to take the news in stride, the only question— and a moment of levity — coming from 16-year-old Joseph when he asked, “Do gay people really have gaydar?”

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