Grindr employees join hot union summer, first out gay coach in major men’s U.S. sports and more

5 queer and trans stories we’re watching: July 21

Good afternoon, sweet queers! And TGIFs all around. As the summer wears on, we hope you’re all staying cool—both physically and metaphysically. And what’s cooler than being up to date on queer and trans news? On that front, here’s our roundup of five stories you don’t want to miss. 

1. Grindr employees announced that they’re forming a union
2. Conservatives in Ohio are using anti-trans rhetoric to try and block abortion legislation
3. The director of Passages called out the Motion Picture Association for giving the film a NC-17 rating
4. California fined a school district because it rejected a textbook with LGBTQ2S+ content
5. A Jacksonville Jaguars coach came out, becoming the first openly gay man to hold a professional coaching job in a major U.S. sports league 

1. Grindr employees announced that they’re forming a union

You know what’s really sexy? Workers banding together to insist on fair and equitable working conditions. Speaking of sexiness and solidarity, Grindr employees announced yesterday that they’re planning to unionize.

Pro-union staff say that the vast majority of the proposed bargaining unit have already been signed up, including employees who work in areas like design, IT, marketing and quality insurance. They predict the full unit will be around 100 people. The new union is saying that the purpose of this move is to formally secure existing benefits, like trans-inclusive healthcare, and to push for new protections like stronger job security and increased transparency regarding wages. The simultaneous waves of anti-LGBTQ2S+ sentiment and tech-industry layoffs were cited as adding urgency to the matter. 

“We want a company built for queer people, not one built to extract wealth from queer people,” employees wrote in the letter announcing the planned unionization to Grindr management, according to Bloomberg. “And we want to build it together, united.” Now that’s worthy of a squirt emoji. 💦

 

2. Conservatives in Ohio are using anti-trans rhetoric to try and block abortion legislation

In an example of the two-birds-with-one-stone premise gone horribly wrong, Protect Women Ohio, an anti-abortion organization, is arguing against people’s right to choose while also perpetuating anti-trans rhetoric. 

The group is spending millions of dollars on attack ads that take aim at proposed amendments that would enshrine access to abortion in Ohio’s constitution. These ads are making the false (but sadly not surprising) argument that the amendment is intentionally worded to allow minors to access both gender-affirming care and abortion without parental consent. 

Not only is there no mention of trans rights or healthcare in the amendment, but, according to NBC News, non-partisan constitutional law experts have said that there’s virtually no way that the amendment could be applied in that way Protect Women Ohio is claiming. Basically, it’s just another group whipping up anti-trans sentiment to further their own agenda—and we’ve had about as much of that as we can take.

3. The director of Passages called out the Motion Picture Association for giving the film a NC-17 rating

This week, Ira Sachs’s Passages, a queer film that was a standout at the Sundance festival in January, got slammed with the highest possible content rating from the Motion Picture Association (MPA). The film, which follows a LGBTQ2S+ love triangle, received a NC-17 rating which, according to the MPA, denotes a film that is “clearly adult.” It also means that anyone under 17 is barred from admission, even if they’re accompanied by an adult. 

Both Sachs and Mubi, the film’s distributor, are saying that the high rating is an unfair and anti-LGBTQ2S+ reaction to the film’s queer content. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Sachs said the rating was “depressing and reactionary” and called it “a form of cultural censorship,” especially in a time where the battle for LGBTQ2S+ representation is an increasingly uphill one. 

Passages is an honest and groundbreaking portrait of contemporary relationships, both queer and straight,” said Mubi in a statement, after officially rejecting the rating. “​​Frank and thoughtful portrayals of sex are essential to cinematic storytelling and in service of representation more broadly.”

4. California fined a school district because it rejected a textbook with LGBTQ2S+ content

This week, California is earning its coolness cred. Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Wednesday that he was levying a hefty USD $1.5 million fine against the Temecula Valley School District (TVSD) after they refused to use a textbook that referenced Harvey Milk, the first out gay man elected to public office in California who was assassinated in 1978.

On Tuesday night, the TVSD board voted to reject the textbook, used for grades one to five, because the associated teaching materials include a short biography of Milk, who board president Joseph Komrosky has called a “pedophile.” The next day Newsom, who earlier this month had pledged to order the textbooks himself, announced that the district would be subject to a significant fine as well as foot the $1.6 million bill for shipping the materials.

“After we deliver the textbooks into the hands of students and their parents, the state will deliver the bill—along with a $1.5 million fine—to the school board for its decision to willfully violate the law, subvert the will of parents and force children to use an out-of-print textbook from 17 years ago,” Newsom said in a statement.

5. A Jacksonville Jaguars coach came out, becoming the first openly gay man to hold a professional coaching job in a major U.S. men’s sports league 

Kevin Maxen, an associate strength coach with the Jacksonville Jaguars football team, announced yesterday that he was gay, making him the first openly gay man to be a coach in a major U.S.-based sports league. 

“I don’t want to feel like I have to think about it anymore,” Maxen said in an interview with OutSports. “I don’t want to feel like I have to lie about who I am seeing, or why I am living with someone … I want to be vocal in support of people living how they want to live, but I also want to just live and not feel fear about how people will react.”

And as a bonus, he has a sweet boyfriend named Nick, and they’ve been dating for two years. We love love! 

🌈Bonus good news (because we need it)🌈

In a time when it can feel scary at best and actively unsafe at worst to be trans, we love to see elected officials standing up for what is right—which is what the City Commission in Lawrence, Kansas, did in a unanimous vote this week that declared the city a trans safe haven!

The ordinance actively defies the state’s recently enacted law that forces people to use restrooms, locker rooms and other gender-segregated areas in accordance with the gender they were assigned at birth. The move follows similar ordinances in places like Kansas City, Missouri, and New York state. Let’s hope more jump on the bandwagon!

Pink Triangle Press, which publishes Xtra, owns the dating site Squirt, which is a competitor to Grindr.

Maddy Mahoney (she/her) is a journalist and writer based in Toronto. You can find her work at CBC Arts, Maisonneuve, Toronto Life, Loose Lips Magazine and others. She lives in Toronto and speaks English.

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