Friends, fans mourn the death of drag performer Lateasha Shuntel
Atlanta’s LGBT community mourns the sudden and unexpected passing of popular drag performer Lateasha Shuntel. Shavonna Brooks, a close friend and colleague of Shuntel, broke the news on Nov. 18 in a Facebook post.
“It is with great sadness that I inform the community of my sister Lateasha Shuntel’s passing,” wrote Brooks.
“Lateasha was found peacefully this morning in her vehicle and was not the victim of foul play THANK GOD! I am hurt, crying, a mess, tore up, anything you can think of at this point.”
An iconic drag queen, Shuntel was a mainstay and crowd favorite as a drag performer at Blake’s on The Park. She also worked as a distributor for DAVID Atlanta Magazine and Southern Voice, the predecessor to Georgia Voice.
A GoFundMe created on Nov.18 to raise funds for Shuntel’s funeral expenses quickly exceeded its $7,500 goal, with donations pouring in from all around the country.
Delta Airlines denies survivor benefits to gay widower
Georgia couple Dan Walter and Jay Beadle planned to spend the rest of their lives together. That was before Beadle was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 1999 and head and neck cancer in 2010. In a committed relationship for 21 years, the couple legally wed in Minnesota two months before Beadle’s death in Jan. 2014.
Walter, Beadle’s surviving husband, is now fighting to amend the terms of Delta’s pension plan to allow surviving spouses like him, who were married to long-term Delta employees, to receive survivor benefits. He is represented by attorneys at the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center (CREE) and Lambda Legal. Delta’s current policy requires couples to be legally married for at least a year in order to be eligible for benefits. Lambda Legal and CREE have sent a letter urging Delta to amend the plan retroactively to waive the one-year marriage duration requirement, as Walter and Beadle were unable to marry under Georgia law prior to the Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges in June.
Delta has been a proud supporter of Georgia’s LGBT community and openly celebrated the Supreme Court ruling in June,
Beloved drag performer Lateasha Shuntel’s legacy lives on. (Photo via Facebook) noting that as a result of “the court’s decision to fully legalize same-sex marriage in all states and jurisdictions ... Delta will be able to provide an equitable benefits package to all Delta people.”
“Jay and I were blessed with more than 20 years together, taking care of each other in all the ways that a committed couple would— physically, emotionally and financially,” says Walter. “I really hope Delta will get this straightened out before anyone else has to go through this.”
The Human Rights Campaign recently awarded Delta Airlines a score of 90 on its annual Corporate Equality Index.
HRC releases 2016 Corporate Equality Index
The results of The Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) annual Corporate Equality Index (CEI), a national benchmarking tool on corporate policies and practices related to LGBT workplace equality, were announced during a press conference in downtown At- lanta on Nov.18.
Chad Griffin, President of HRC, was on hand to deliver remarks on the findings of the annual report. In total, 851 companies were officially rated in the 2016 CEI, up from 781 in the 2015 report. The average score for companies and law firms based in Georgia is 82 percent. Of the 24 companies ranked, 13 earned 100 percent, 3 earned 90 percent or above, and 1 earned 80 percent or above.
“Atlanta was the first city in the deep South to score a perfect 100 on HRC’s Municipal Equality Index,” says Griffin. “While support for LGBT workers is growing in the U.S. and around the world, too many companies still fail to guarantee basic, vital workplace protections that allow employees to bring their full selves to work,” Griffin adds.
The 2016 CEI revealed that a record 407 businesses earned a top score of 100 percent and the distinction of “Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality.”