- The day before her borough’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade, Miss Staten Island Madison L’Insalata publicly came out as bisexual to several news outlets.
- She revealed her plan to wear rainbow colors while marching in the parade, especially because the Pride Center of Staten Island was not allowed to march.
- Shortly after this news broke, a parade organizer informed L’Insalata that she could not march in Sunday’s event, citing safety concerns as the reason.
- The Staten Island St. Patrick’s Day parade organizers have been widely criticized for their exclusivity of LGBTQ groups.
- Miss Staten Island repped her rainbow gear from the sidelines regardless of her ban.
Banned from Parade
As Staten Islanders held their annual St. Patrick’s Day parade on Sunday, there were several noticeable absences among the marchers—Miss Staten Island and anybody openly representing the LGBTQ community. Madison L’Insalata, who holds the pageant title, was confined to the sidelines after she came out as bisexual.
L’Insalata, 23, revealed her sexual orientation to The New York Post and the Staten Island Advance over the weekend. She also told the outlets about her plan to wear rainbow gear at the parade as a symbol of LGBTQ pride. Her motives stemmed from the parade organizers’ decision to deny the Pride Center of Staten Island’s from participating in the parade, a rejection that has occurred repeatedly in past years.
“I thought this might be a good time to really make a statement and take a stand,” L’Insalata told ABC7. “I wanted to announce that I would be marching in the parade with rainbow colors and showing and coming out and saying that I was bi because I wanted people to see the colors.”
“I wanted there to be discussion and I wanted people to talk, and I wanted to change,” she added.
Shortly after the news outlets published her public coming out on Saturday, L’Insalata received a call from the director of Miss Staten Island Scholarship Pageants, Jim Smith. He had heard from parade organizer Larry Cummings, who said that L’Insalata and another pageant queen who had supported her were not allowed to march.
“I was stunned by the whole thing,” Smith told CBS New York. “I wasn’t prepared. He just said we’re worried about her safety, like he’s doing us a favor.”
L’Insalata didn’t fully believe the decision was made for her security.
“It seems that it might have more to do with me coming out as bi, and my wearing my rainbow scarf that I have here, and them not being okay with that,” L’Insalata told ABC7.
The pageant queen wasn’t the only one barred because of her colorful accessories. City Councilman Joseph Borelli (R) said he was physically blocked from marching and told he could not participate due to the rainbow-flag pin he was wearing.
“They called the police on me,” Borelli told the Staten Island Advance. “I spoke to a sergeant and was not going to make the life of our cops more complicated to prove a point. …I didn’t come with it looking for an argument; my friends handed a pin to me. I really didn’t think it was a big affront to the Irish.”
L’Insalata, for her part, still showed up to wear her rainbow accessories on the side of Sunday’s parade.
“I just realized that even if I wasn’t going to be allowed to march, I could still make a difference,” L’Insalata told the Washington Post. “And I think that I still sparked conversation.”
Criticized For Exclusion
Staten Island’s is the only St. Patrick Day parade in the city that still bans LGBTQ groups from participating.
“Here’s the deal, it’s a non-sexual identification parade and that’s that, no, they are not marching,” Cummings told the Staten Island Advance earlier this year when asked why the Pride Center was denied.
“Don’t try to keep asking a million friggin’ questions, OK?” Cummings added when asked further questions on the matter.
Cummings and the other organizers have faced repeated backlash for their exclusivity. Several politicians refused to participate in the Staten Island parade after the decision to ban the Pride Center was revealed. Other pageant winners in the area boycotted the parade due to the ban.
A petition to remove Cummings from his position emerged over the weekend and had gained over 5,700 signatures by Tuesday morning. L’Insalata, however, doesn’t think this is the best move.
“A lot of people just want him totally removed, and the thing is, he was trying to shut me and the rest of the LGBTQ community out. He wasn’t trying to have a discussion,” she told NBC. “If I do the same thing, and if other people do the same thing by pushing him out, I don’t think that anything gets accomplished.”
See what others are saying: (CBS) (Washington Post) (NBC)
Couple Slammed Over Slavery-Themed Pre-Wedding Photoshoot
Many have expressed outrage at the duo for trying to romanticize slavery while others were left completely dumbfounded by the entire ordeal.
Photoshoot Goes Viral
A couple has come under fire after sharing images on Instagram from their slavery-themed pre-wedding photoshoot.
The photos show a Black man in shackles looking deeply into his white fiancé’s eyes before she works to releases him.
“1842. Days passed and everything changed, our love got stronger and stronger, he was no longer a slave, he was part of the family,” the post’s caption reads.
To indicate his transition from “slave” to family, a fourth image shows him wearing a long coat and top hat with well-shined shoes, as opposed to the white shirt, trousers, and straw hat he wore in the previous images.
Social Media Users React
It’s not immediately clear who these people are since the social media handle is redacted in the images circulating online.
Still, many have expressed outrage at the duo for trying to romanticize slavery while others were left just completely dumbfounded by this entire ordeal. Some also directed criticism at the photographer who agreed to the shoot, along with the hundreds of Instagram users who liked the original posts.
To see people romanticize this shit is infuriating – these people are too much. There is no such thing as slave consent and the sexual abuse of male slaves was real.— Nurse Elise 🌒 (@EliseRootedMind) July 21, 2021
There were three people there counting the photographer and not one thought should we? And over 1400 people hit the like button? And it’s part 2 like there’s more? I so want to be at the wedding when minister asks if anybody objects.— Randi Pro Democracy (@RandiKinman) July 21, 2021
See what others are saying: (The Daily Dot) (Black Enterprise) (BET)
Couple Whose Gender Reveal Sparked CA Wildfire Hit With 30 Charges, Including Involuntary Manslaughter
The fire, which caused massive damage and took months to extinguish, also killed the head of an elite firefighting team.
Gender Reveal Sparks Deadly Wildfire
A couple whose gender reveal party sparked the El Dorado wildfire in Southern California earlier this year has pleaded not guilty after they were hit with 30 charges, authorities said Tuesday.
Refugio Manuel Jimenez Jr. and Angela Renee Jimenez triggered the fire in Yucaipa on Sept. 5 with a smoke bomb that exploded in especially dry and hot conditions.
By the time the fire was extinguished in November, it had burned over 22,000 acres of land, injured more than a dozen people, forced hundreds of evacuations, and destroyed at least 10 structures.
The blaze also took the life of 39-year-old Charlie Morton, the leader of an elite firefighting team who worked as a firefighter for 18 years.
“He’s fighting a fire that was started because of a smoke bomb. That’s the only reason he’s there,” San Bernardino County District Attorney Jason Anderson said at a news conference.
Charges Include Involuntary Manslaughter
Authorities have charged the couple responsible for the wildfire with one felony count of involuntary manslaughter, three felony counts of recklessly causing a fire with great bodily injury, four felony counts of recklessly causing a fire to inhabited structures, and 22 misdemeanor counts of recklessly causing fire to the property of another.
The charges were filed after a grand jury heard 34 witness interviews over four days. A total of 434 exhibits were ultimately presented to the grand jury, leading to the indictment that was unsealed Tuesday.
After entering their not guilty pleas, the duo was released on their own recognizance until their next scheduled court date. CBS Los Angeles reported that they could face up to 20 years each if convicted as charged.
“You’re obviously dealing with lost lives, you’re dealing with injured lives, and you’re dealing with people’s residences that were burned and their land that was burned. That encompasses a lot of, not only emotion, but damage, both financially and psychologically,” Anderson explained at the press conference.
He also stressed that part of the reason the investigation and ultimate prosecution took so long was because authorities wanted to make sure justice was fully served.
“Given the scope and the impact of the El Dorado Fire on the land and lives of so many, particularly Charles Morton and his family, it was imperative that every investigation be completed within both federal and state agencies to provide a full, fair presentation to the members of our community,” he said.
Los Angeles County Reinstates Indoor Mask Mandate Amid Rising Cases
The renewed restrictions for the nation’s largest county come as coronavirus infections have been spiking across America, with new cases doubling in the last two weeks.
L.A. County Masks Up, Again
Starting Saturday, Los Angeles County will require people to wear face masks indoors again regardless of vaccination status as the nation’s most populous county grapples with a surge of COVID-19 cases.
In a press conference Thursday, L.A. County health officials pointed to low vaccination rates, a steady climb in new infections, and the rapid spread of the highly transmissible delta variant as driving factors behind the decision.
“We’re not where we need to be for the millions at risk of infection here in Los Angeles County, and waiting to do something will be too late given what we’re seeing now,” county Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis said. “This is an all-hands-on-deck moment.”
Without providing full details, Davis said there would be some exceptions to the restrictions, including people being allowed to take off their masks while eating and drinking at restaurants.
The move comes as community transmission in the county has skyrocketed since June 15, when California reopened its economy and ended capacity limits, along with social distancing guidelines.
For the week-long period ending on that date, L.A. County had averaged 173 new coronavirus cases a day. Exactly one month later, those numbers have increased by nearly 580%, with the county reporting an average of 1,176 infections a day for the seven-day period ending July 15.
On Thursday, officials logged over 1,537 more cases — the highest figure since early March. Around 70% of COVID samples in the county from June 27 to July 3 were identified as delta variants.
Notably, the vast majority of those impacted have not been vaccinated against the coronavirus. According to reports, between Dec. 7 and June 7, unvaccinated people made up 99.6% of L.A. County’s COVID cases, 98.7% of hospitalizations, and 99.8% of deaths.
Only five million of the more than 10 million residents in the county have been inoculated against the virus.
Cases Surge Across U.S.
L.A. County is not the only locality that has seen a spike in COVID cases, though it is one of the few that has taken firm action.
New cases largely driven by the delta variant, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says now accounts for nearly 60% of all infections in the U.S., have more than doubled in the last two weeks, according to The New York Times tracker.
The 14-day average has risen dramatically from 12,799 on July 1 to 28,315 on July 15.
According to The Times, 49 states have seen at least a 15% increase over the past 14 days, and 19 of those states are reporting double or more the number of new infections. Full outbreaks, largely concentrated in the South, have emerged in a number of states with low vaccination rates.
In the last two weeks, Arkansas, which is currently reporting the highest per capita COVID cases in America, has seen increases of 120% for new cases and 77% for hospitalizations. Florida and Tennesee have seen the most significant 14-day spikes in terms of population percentage, reporting surges of 232% and 373% respectively.
Some states and counties have begun to make additional safety recommendations. Officials in Mississippi, where cases have risen over 70% since July 1, have urged both vaccinated and unvaccinated senior residents to avoid large indoor gatherings.
Health officials in California’s Sacramento and Yolo counties also issued voluntary warnings this week for all residents to wear masks while indoors.
However, it remains to be seen whether more localities will reimpose mandatory requirements or restrictions as cases continue to swell and the delta variant proliferates.
Rising cases in the U.S. and abroad also pose a more long-term threat to global efforts to fight the pandemic. On Thursday, the World Health Organization warned that the influx of new cases in many parts of the world will enhance the likelihood of more severe variants emerging that will be difficult to control with vaccinations.
The WHO also urged wealthier countries like the U.S. — where just over 50% of people are vaccinated despite the existence of supplies for all those eligible — to send more jabs overseas.