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Atlanta’s ‘Team Friendly’ aims to destroy HIV stigma

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UPDATE: Team Friendly Atlanta will hold its official launch "Drop the Soap" event on Saturday, March 16, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Jungle that is also a fundraiser for Lost-n-Found. Organizers are asking people to bring personal hygiene products to donate to Lost-n-Found including disposable razors, shaving cream and deoderant.

There will be a $5 suggested donation and an auction. People will have the chance to "wash down" local celebrities including leathermen Sir Ben and Joeboy, DJ Diablo Rojo, Chandler Bearden, leatherboy Dana Prosser, aerialist Melissa Coffey and porn star Charlie Harding.

In the past few weeks, a new organization dedicated to eliminating HIV stigma has been spotted in local gay bars and gay events and has organized outreach efforts with MISTER, the Atlanta Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and Lost-n-Found, the group that helps homeless LGBT youth.

Named Team Friendly Atlanta, the all-volunteer organization is headed up by Randy Prophater who said he wanted to give back to his community. A recovering crystal meth addict who was diagnosed with HIV in 2004, Prophater, who is gay, said he felt there was not enough taking place in various organizations about tackling HIV stigma head on. A trip to a dentist's office also put into perspective the discrimination people with HIV continue to face, he said.

Team Friendly Atlanta is currently seeking to gain its official 501(c)3 status and has about 40 members and will conduct its first official outreach this weekend.

Prophater (in a relationship with G-Man, who was Interntional Mr. Rubber in 2011 and Mr. Southeast Rubber for 2010/2011) answered a few questions ahead of the outreach effort.

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Atlanta City Council approves $250,000 settlement to HIV positive man denied police job

The Atlanta City Council today approved a settlement of $250,000 to an HIV positive man who sued the city when he was allegedly denied a job with the city's police department because of his HIV status.

Richard Roe, the plaintiff's pseudonym used throughout the lawsuit, first applied to the Atlanta Police Department in early 2006, but was denied employment due to his HIV status, his lawsuit claimed. According to Lambda Legal, who represented Roe: "During a pre-employment medical exam, the APD learned that Roe was HIV-positive, and the doctor informed Roe that his HIV status disqualified him from becoming a police officer with the APD."

The check for the full amount was made to Richard Roe and The Koval Firm, owned by Steve Koval, a gay attorney who has represented Roe from the beginning before getting assistance from Lamba Legal.

Roe sued the city when he wasn't hired. City lawyers first maintained that Atlanta did not have a policy against hiring police officers with HIV, then later claimed that his HIV status presented a "direct threat" to others.

"Actions speak louder than words," said Koval in a previous statement.

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Health & Fitness: ‘Homophobia is a health hazard’

Atlanta Health Initiative

Discrimination doesn’t just stand in the way of civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. In some cases, it may actually contribute to making us sick.

“I think that we can legitimately call homophobia a health hazard,” said Linda Ellis, executive director of the Health Initiative, the new Atlanta-based organization that aims to be “Georgia’s voice for LGBTQ health.”

“Whether it is because of actual discrimination expressed by an uncaring provider or the internalized dread of what might happen in the vulnerable setting of a doctor’s exam room, LGBT individuals are still less likely to seek healthcare,” she said.

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Vandy Beth Glenn in court

U.S. Court of Appeals hears arguments in Ga. transgender woman's employment discrimination case today

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U.S. Court of Appeals to hear arguments in Ga. transgender woman’s employment discrimination case

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit will hear arguments in the federal discrimination lawsuit filed by a Georgia transgender woman who was fired from her state job after informing her employer she was transitioning from male to female.

Vandy Beth Glenn, represented by nonprofit LGBT legal organization Lambda Legal, sued the state of Georgia after she was fired in 2007 as a legislative editor for the Georgia General Assembly.

In July 2010 a federal judge ruled the state illegally discriminated against Glenn and in August the judge ordered she be reinstated back to her job. During the appeals process, however, Glenn has been receiving her 2007 salary but has not been able to return to her job.

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Georgia company Media Graphix denies anti-gay discrimination

Media Graphix Atlanta offices

Printing company Media Graphix, accused of anti-gay discrimination by Atlanta-based and gay-owned Carma Productions, said today it does not discriminate against gay people and said the company's claims were "baseless."

In an email today to Carma Production's publisher Thomas Ryan as well as to Jose Soto, editor of The Gay Report, an international website that keeps track of anti-gay businesses, Gus Asadi, CFO of Media Graphix, denied any claims of discrimination, saying the company employs numerous gay people and continues to work with numerous gay companies.

In an Oct. 31 email to Heidi Reis, executive vice president of Carma Productions, an employee denied the company's request to print materials for its Gay Community Yellow Pages citing its "moral objection policy."

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HIV-positive man sues city of Atlanta after denied job as Atlanta Police Department officer

A 39-year-old man is suing the city of Atlanta after he was denied a job as an Atlanta Police Department officer in 2006 because he is HIV-positive, according to Lambda Legal.

Late Tuesday, Lambda Legal finished its briefing with the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of "Richard Roe," the pseudonym being used by the HIV-positive man in legal documents to protect his privacy.

"There was no good reason to deny our client this opportunity. People living with HIV are serving as police officers all across the country; they are involved in every kind of work and participate in all walks of life," said Scott Schoettes, Lambda Legal's HIV Project Director, in a statement.

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Out & Equal Atlanta offers training for LGBT allies in the workplace

Sibby Tansill from Out & Equal AtlantaMany people don’t realize you can be fired in Georgia for being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. But being on the forefront of accepting LGBT employees is a priority for some companies, and Out & Equal Atlanta can help them ensure their practices are culturally competent as well as good business.

“As part of Out & Equal Atlanta we are trying to deliver relevant and quality programming,” says Sibby Tansill of SyBIC Consulting and co-chair of the local chapter of the national Out & Equal nonprofit organization.

“We work with affinity groups and human resources groups … to show how to be more inclusive,” she adds.

Companies Out & Equal works with include Turner, Newell Rubbermaid and Coca-Cola — all major companies that have excellent records with the national Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index.

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[Video] Customers at Macon, Ga., club say were turned away because they are gay

Gay customers at a new Macon, Ga., club said they were not allowed entrance because the owner was catering to a straight crowd and did not want people who "act gay" to scare others off.

According to a Saturday late report by WGXA-TV in Macon, the new club, Club Element, held its grand opening on Friday, March 4. The club on Cherry Street was formerly Synergy, a gay club.

On opening night, customers said they were turned away because they were gay.

"One of the bouncers pulled us out of the line and to the side and said this a straight club now and you aren’t allowed to act gay when you are in there," Colby Cain, a former Synergy customer, told WGXA-TV.