Co-Editors: Betsy Ettorre & Sarah Fancy
Betsy Ettorre has lived abroad since 1972 and came out as lesbian in 1975. Betsy comes from Connecticut and did her graduate degree in the UK. She worked as a feminist academic in UK and Finland for a long time, and has been a member of DA since 2004 – in DA UK (2004-2016) and in DA Finland (2018 -- the present). She is an elected member (Member at Large) of the DA Finland Country Committee and of the DA LGBTQ+ Global Caucus. During her time abroad, she has witnessed many changes, both positive and negative, in the American political system. However, at present she is involved in helping to get the vote out for the forthcoming presidential election and maintaining a razor-sharp focus on unity, equality, human rights, dignity for all, election integrity, social and environmental justice, and unambiguous democracy. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, she wants us to take back our rights -- rights that continue to be jeopardized by the current USA administration.
Originally from Rochester, Michigan, Sarah Fancy has lived abroad since 1992. Sarah studied German and English Literature at the University of Michigan, did a year abroad at the Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, and later earned an MBA in Global Management. Her career as a technical editor, translator, and knowledge manager spans almost 30 years and three countries: Ireland, Germany, and the US. Sarah took the winding path to coming out at 43, with a few diversions along the way. She has four children, ranging in ages from 22 to 11. When she met her now wife Kim (who is British) at an essential oil convention in London in 2015, planets collided and she knew what she (finally) needed to do. She joined Democrats Abroad when she moved to Galway in 2010, and was excited to visit the Obama “ancestral home” in Moneygall, Ireland of Barack Obama on his 50th birthday. Sarah is excited to be the co-editor of the new LGBTQ+ newsletter and is looking forward to working with the team.
LGBTQ+ Country Voices: Dumped, dating, and discrimination in Covid Paris
One Sunday morning in late February in Paris, my boyfriend announced that our relationship was over.
The next day I began couch surfing with friends, and a week later France entered lockdown to stem the Covid-19 pandemic. Change was everywhere.
A month into living out of a suitcase at my friend Etienne’s, his ears bleeding from my breakup rants, he suggested that it might do me some good to live alone. Taking the hint, I packed up and moved to a sublet.
The first night there, in no mood to rewatch Black Mirror, I did what newly single gay men do with time and a smartphone: I downloaded Grindr.
Grindr is the “largest social networking app for gay, bi, trans, and queer people.” Members see other members in their vicinity, and can share messages, photos, and their location.
Half asleep, I tried to create a profile in the time it took to brush my teeth. Keep it simple,I reminded myself. But who was I kidding? My go at simplicity led to selfie taking to show I was sexy, yet approachable, passionate, yet carefree. In the end, the pics just looked like I had not seen the sun since 2019.
This time around, my time on Grindr has produced varied results.
I have encountered the usual suspects: the courtroom stenographers, who woo with “Sup,” or its cousin, “Wut u up 2”; or the macho, “discreet” types who send emojis of fruit and water features (usually an eggplant, peach, and splash icon, but not necessarily in that order).
Of all the Grindr guys, though, there is one type that irritates me: the ones who see, first and foremost, my ethnicity, and not much else. The ones treating my Korean origins as a continent-wide topic, like one of those catch-all Asian restaurants in strip malls, with names like Great Wall Sushi Thai Lotus House.
Anonymous 1 told me, for example, “You’re kinda tall to be Asian.” I asked why he felt the need to generalize, and he replied saying that denying Asians are short would be denying reality.
LBGTQ+ Caucus Member Profile: George Sonsel
HIV/AIDS: Pioneer and health activist on the front lines
“The development of services directed within our own community and the commitment of our community towards providing those things is a huge shift from when I came out,” said George Sonsel, a Democrats Abroad member and long-term AIDS advocate.
Sonsel, 75, has been based in The Hague for the past six years, alongside his Dutch husband, Sven Paardekooper. After growing up in Dallas, Texas, he moved to California to study, eventually coming out of the closet and moving to Palm Springs. Sonsel spent the bulk of his career working with HIV/AIDS patients, and was one of the earliest medical professionals to do so.
When the AIDS epidemic hit in the early 1980s, Sonsel witnessed its destruction firsthand. He worked as a psychologist, and his then partner was a nurse. Together, they saw the rise of a strange disease that attacked the immune system with brutal efficiency, killing previously healthy young men in just a few months and ravaging the gay community. Many medical professionals refused to care for the patients. The two of them lost 32 friends in a single year while watching the federal government ignore the epidemic raging outside their door.
“Your life, your mind, your everything, is so reset to survival,” he said.
Spotlight of Inspiration: Joan Jett Blakk
Although the Democratic presidential primary is now largely uncontested with Joe Biden as the presumptive nominee, more former presidential hopefuls have joined an ever-growing pantheon of peers. These candidates may not have been successful in their quest to win the presidency, but their campaigns nonetheless influenced the political discourse and reflected the important issues of their time.
One such candidate was the drag queen Joan Jett Blakk, who ran for president in 1992. Joan Jett Blakk is the alter ego of artist and activist Terence Smith. Blakk was the first drag queen to run for president and created a “camp-pain” only a drag queen could conjure.
Terence transforming into Blakk inside a restroom at the 1992 DNC.
Pride celebrations bring out Americans abroad all around the world. In 2018, we saw a lot of great activity as our country committees put their rainbow colors on and celebrate the LGBT community.
Thank you to our Panama, Austria, Spain, Canada, Italy and Finland teams for their awesome pictures!
Join the Democrats Abroad LGBTQ+ caucus for an update on issues impacting LGBTQ+ families abroad and LGBTQ+ immigrants and asylum seekers in the USA.
Immigration Equality Executive Director Aaron Morris and Legal Director Bridget Crawford will provide an update on LGBTQ+ immigration in the USA and their lawsuit against the U.S. State Department for refusing to recognize the birthright citizenship of children born abroad to same-sex couples.
DATE: Tuesday, May 19
TIME: 10:30 PDT (PDT/San Francisco, Seattle)