Procter & Gamble announces partner benefits at workplace summits
by Doreen Cudnik
Cincinnati--A national conference about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workplace issues opened with a Cincinnati multinational company announcing domestic partner benefits and closed with a call to boycott the world’s largest corporation because of their discriminatory employment policies.
In between these two events, the Out and Equal Workplace Summit, held October 5 to 7 in northern Kentucky, brought nearly 300 people to the tri-state region for three days of education, networking and fun.
The annual summit is put on by Out and Equal Workplace Advocates, a national group which provides support and advocacy to the LGBT community in the workplace. The San Francisco organization offers LGBT diversity training, networking opportunities for LGBT employees, and the annual summit.
The idea to bring the conference to Cincinnati, despite the city’s conservative and anti-LGBT attitudes, was put forth two years ago by this year’s conference chair, Heidi Bruins.
A resident of Cincinnati, Bruins works at Procter & Gamble and is one of the founder’s of the company’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employee group.
Bruins encouraged conference leaders and participants to not only bring the event to a Midwest city, but also to broaden the scope of the conference itself to include discussions of racism and other "core human rights issues along with homophobia," she said.
"We can no longer be content to say "we’re just working on homophobia and transphobia" as if "we" are not also people of color or other disenfranchised groups," Bruins said.
Keeping with this commitment to coalition building, veteran LGBT rights activist Mandy Carter gave a keynote address on "Making the Connection: The Intersection of Race, Gender and LGBT Issues."
A grassroots organizer for the past 32 years, Carter has served as a field director for the National Black Lesbian and Gay Leadership Forum. She currently serves as secretary-treasurer for the Democratic National Committee Gay and Lesbian American Caucus. The key focus of her work is the monitoring of the radical right in communities of color.
Former White House staffer Fernando Serpa and Louisville organizer Carla Wallace joined Carter during this plenary session. In 1991 Wallace was a founder of the Kentucky Fairness Campaign, which has succeeded in winning some of the most comprehensive civil rights protections in the country.
Near, but not in, Cincinnati
The suburb of Erlanger, Ky. was chosen as the site of the conference to protest Cincinnati’s anti-LGBT city charter amendment, Article 12, which was passed by voters in 1993.
Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune found himself in what he called the "curious position" of welcoming conference participants to Kentucky, but said it was appropriate that the conference send a message to leaders in Cincinnati.
"It is altogether appropriate that you gather here, to send a not-so-subtle message north across the river that Cincinnati’s institutionalized intolerance, prejudice and discrimination will not be tolerated and that there are indeed national repercussions to the city’s posture," Portune said.
Opportunity, diversity and inclusion of all people despite their differences was the theme that ran through the entire conference, from the plenary sessions to the workshops to the second annual "Outie" Awards, held on Saturday evening.
Procter & Gamble gives partner benefits
Some of the biggest news of the conference revolved around Procter & Gamble’s decision to offer domestic partner benefits to their employees.
Dick Pease, P&G’s vice president of human resources in North America, made the announcement at the conference. The decision had the full support and backing of the company’s CEO, A.G. Lafley.
"All the data I’ve seen in 30 years of being in business, and all of my personal experience at P&G over the last 23 years, convince me that a diverse organization will out-think, out-innovate, and out-perform a homogenous organization every single time," said Lafley. "In the end, winning will come from taking full advantage of our diversity."
Andrea Adkins of Dayton, a P&G employee for over 20 years, said that the company’s decision to offer domestic partner benefits will be a "very influential for other large typically conservative companies."
"People do look to Procter & Gamble as an example," Adkins said. "One of their high profile values is valuing the individual and valuing the work that they do regardless of differences that people may have. So they’re finally living those principles and values. We knew that they’d do it eventually."
Unlike P&G and other companies who supported the conference, ExxonMobil drew the ire of LGBT activists around the country when, following the December 1999 merger between Exxon and Mobil, the company rescinded a non-discrimination policy that included sexual orientation. The merger made it the largest corporation in the world.
On the final day of the conference, a newly-formed group, the Coalition to Promote Equality at ExxonMobil, announced a boycott of the company. The coalition is a joint effort by Out & Equal, Equality Project, the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition, P-FLAG and Pride at Work.
The coalition pointed out that ExxonMobil’s competitors, Chevron, Sunoco, Atlantic Richfield, BP Amoco and Texaco explicitly prohibit discrimination by sexual orientation, and BP Amoco, Chevron and Shell also offer domestic partner benefits.
Transgender activist honored
All was not political during the conference weekend, though, as Saturday evening was the time for conference attendees to enjoy a gala dinner and awards ceremony at the second annual Out and Equal Workplace Awards. The "Outies" are given to honor people who have helped create workplaces that support LGBT employees.
This year’s Trailblazer Award went to transgender activist Mary Ann Horton of Columbus. The award is given to a person who has made a "significant contribution to advancing workplace equity."
"Closeted employees who have to spend energy hiding part of themselves could be more productive if they feel safe coming out," Horton said. "Businesses can be more successful by creating a safe space for transgendered employees to come out at work."
Kodak, Pride at Walt Disney, Motorola and IBM were also award winners for their work to advance LGBT equality in the workplace.
Openly gay comic Jason Stuart emceed the Saturday evening gala and had the audience in stitches. Cincinnati’s Muse women’s chorus did several musical numbers to open the program. On Friday evening, local organizers hosted a riverboat cruise on the Belle of Cincinnati.
Noted anti-gay attends
One of the most unlikely attendees at the conference was conservative Christian commentator Peter LaBarbera. An author of many anti-gay articles over the years, LaBarbera works as a policy analyst for the Culture and Family Institute, an affiliate of the right-wing group Concerned Women for America.
While he was met with some uneasiness and distrust from many conference-goers, LaBarbera was nevertheless welcomed and treated with respect. He jokingly referred to himself as the "lone homophobe of the group" in a Sunday morning workshop on "Gays, God and the Workplace."
"The reality is that there is a debate over ideas in our society," LaBarbera said. "I come to gay events because I don’t want to get my information secondhand."
LaBarbera spoke at the National Gay and Lesbian Journalists Association convention in August, where he addressed his concerns about a "gay bias" in the media.
"If you’re gay and working in the mainstream press then you have an obligation to know the gay side, and you have an obligation to know other points of view. Our point was that we didn’t think that a lot of reporters were understanding the other point of view and that’s why we were there," he said.
Asked whether attending LGBT conferences changed his attitudes about LGBT people, LaBarbera answered ambiguously. He did acknowledge, however, that he has taken some "cheap shots" at the gay community over the years.
Whether or not the conference had been infiltrated by the radical right hardly seemed an issue for most in attendance, like Tom Smith of Aetna Health Insurance in Columbus.
"I think it’s great that we’re getting together to discuss gay issues in the workplace," Smith said. "I think that’s the future for GLBT issues. Legislation, while it’s nice to have it on the books, won’t work unless it’s enforced, and it won’t change public opinion. But if all the companies protect their gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees and offer domestic partner benefits, society is eventually going to have to follow."
Next year’s Out and Equal Workplace Summit will be held in Orlando, Florida.
by Anthony Glassman
Toledo—Despite an hour delay in starting, U.S. Rep. Jim Kolbe spoke to the Log Cabin Republicans of Northwest Ohio at a dinner in his honor on October 6.
Kolbe, R-Arizona, was late in arriving due to mechanical problems with his charter jet, but when he did arrive, he stirred the crowd deeply. He is one of three openly gay or lesbian members of Congress.
During his speech to the 50 people gathered at the Wyndham Hotel, Kolbe spoke of gay people who lost their lives in the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. He spoke of Father Mychal Judge, the openly gay New York Fire Department chaplain killed by falling debris while administering last rites to a fallen comrade; Mark Bingham, a gay man who helped his fellow passengers foil hijackers’ attempts to crash their plane in the capital, and David Charlebois, the co-pilot of the plane that crashed into the Pentagon.
He also noted President Bush’s gay appointees, especially the new ambassador to Romania, Michael Guest, whose partner was recognized by Secretary of State Colin Powell at Guest’s swearing-in ceremony last month.
Kolbe was then given the President William McKinley Spirit of the GOP award for his service to the Republican Party and the United States.
Other honorees at the ceremony included Toledo clerk of court Maggie Thurber and her husband Sam; Toledo municipal judge Amy Berling; Lucas County GOP chair Patrick Kriner; Allen Roy; Mark Berling; Carol Van Sickle; Dee Talmage; Rob Ludeman, and Gene Zmuda. They received the Spirit of Lincoln Award, given to members of the Republican Party who practice inclusion of LGBT people and strongly support the Log Cabin Republicans.
At Tony Packo’s Restaurant, Kolbe joined member of the Toledo Log Cabin chapter and signed a hot dog bun. The restaurant, made famous by the cross-dressing Klinger in the television show MASH, displays hot dog buns autographed by celebrities and dignitaries.
The next morning, Kolbe attended a breakfast for Toledo-area gay veterans, along with Gene Hagedorn of Gays and Lesbians United, Dick Flock and Bill Teoppe.
Kolbe then visited Loft and Home Essentials, a gay-owned Toledo business, where he was given some candles the store sells.
An expert on trade, Kolbe made history as the first openly gay man to address the Republican National Convention last year, and is the chairman of the foreign operations subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee.
by Anthony Glassman
Cleveland—Both candidates for Cleveland mayor support equal rights for LGBT people, and both said they are for giving health benefits to the domestic partners of city workers.
Raymond C. Pierce and Jane Campbell, the two contenders left standing after the October 2 mayoral primary, spoke on October 8 to the Cleveland Stonewall Democrats.
Both candidates were given ten minutes to speak and take questions from the group, meeting at the Cleveland Lesbian-Gay Center on Detroit Ave.
Pierce told those assembled that he would have a doctor head the Cleveland Health Department, stepping up the city’s efforts to combat HIV and AIDS.
Campbell told the crowd that she would attend Gay Pride in June if elected and if her schedule allowed, something Michael R. White, the current mayor, has never done.
"It’s great," said Pride chair Brynna Fish. "It’s about time. The mayor needs to be there."
In the end, the Cleveland Stonewall Democrats voted to endorse Campbell over Pierce.
According to Patrick Shepherd of the Stonewall Democrats, two factors clinched the endorsement for Campbell: First, her specificity in answering questions illustrated her knowledge of LGBT issues, and second, her familiarity in the gay community, having been present at past LGBT events.
"When she made the pledge to go to events, she would continue something she already had been doing," Shepherd said.
"I thought that Mr. Pierce represented himself very well," Shepherd continued. "I think it was a difficult decision for many members."
It was the second time in two weeks the candidates had faced each other at the Cleveland Lesbian-Gay Center. Both also appeared at the North Coast HIV/AIDS Coalition’s candidates forum on September 29.
Shepherd was also quick to point out that many of the candidates who lost in the October 2 primary were worthy of the post, and had also demonstrated their openness to the concerns of the LGBT community.
"Bill Denihan worked hard to court the gay vote," Shepherd noted. "He went to the NOCI picnic and was spotted dancing on stage at Dancin’ in the Streets. I hope that he runs for something else in the near future so we can reciprocate his support."
Shepherd also noted that Tim McCormack attended the Cleveland Lesbian-Gay Center’s Garden Party and Pride.
"Cleveland needs a mayor who will recognize, celebrate and support the gay community here," said Linda Malicki, executive director of the Lesbian-Gay Center. "If Jane Campbell is elected mayor and attends Pride, excellent, but we also need a mayor who will stand up with us against intolerance and injustice."
by Eric Resnick
Akron--The discussion at Stonewall Akron’s candidate night became heated when the audience began asking about a proposal to add sexual orientation and gender to the city’s equal rights ordinance, and about gay-straight alliances in schools.
Fifteen candidates for Akron school board and Akron City Council attended the annual event October 9 at the University of Akron’s Martin Center.
Candidates included incumbents and challengers. Most used their opening remarks to give their backgrounds and their generic campaign pitch. But once the floor opened for questions, they were asked directly about how they would vote on the ordinance.
Introduced last summer by council president Marco Sommerville, the measure has not moved. Stonewall Akron has been negotiating for its passage for five years.
Incumbent councilmember-at-large John Otterman said he would revisit the bill and "take a look."
The other at-large incumbent, Jason Adams, said he would vote for the bill.
Incumbent Ward 4 member Alan Pickett said he would support the bill.
Ward 8 challenger Michael Trecaso, Ward 10 challenger Garry Moneypenny and at-large challengers Gene Herrigan and Anthony Hudson also said they would support the bill if elected.
Seven of the eight candidates for the Akron Board of Education were also there. They were asked about their support of gay-straight alliances, and gay-affirming curricula.
All seven, incumbents Linda Omobien and Mary Stormer, and challengers Rebecca DiDonato Heimbaugh, Tim Miller, Vera Cogan O’Neill, Carolyn Reed, and Vivian Talley, said they supported both.
After an initial attempt by all to avoid the question about protection of gay students, all seven said they could support adding sexual orientation to the board’s harassment policy and employment policy.
Akron Municipal Court candidate John Holcomb also attended, but no questions were directed to him.
Annapolis, Md.—A special court master’s findings could stop the effort to bring Maryland’s new gay equal rights law to a referendum next year.
Walter Childs was appointed by the Anne Arundel County Circuit Court to review thousands of signatures on a petition to put the law on the November 2002 ballot. He found problems with as many as 7,500 of them.
The anti-discrimination law was approved by the state legislature earlier this year.
A coalition of religious and conservative groups called TakeBackMaryland.org collected 47,539 signatures on their petitions. That was 1,411 more than necessary to put the law, which prohibits discrimination by sexual orientation, to referendum.
If the signatures Childs found problems with are invalidated, the referendum bid will fail and the law will take effect.
In a report filed October 5, Childs listed several different kinds of defects.
Witness signatures for 580 signatures were post-dated and about 4,000 signatures were on pages with the summary of the measure stapled to the form, rather than printed on the reverse side as required by law.
The only other statewide gay equal rights law to be put to a vote was defeated twice by Maine voters, in 1998 and 2000. Eleven other states now include "sexual orientation" in their equal rights laws.
by Eric Resnick
Toronto, Ohio--A jury of five men and three women found an openly gay man guilty of public indecency after 37 minutes of deliberation October 4.
The case has gotten national attention due to the local police chief hiding video cameras in the men’s restroom of a highway rest area without a warrant, and conducting a six-month investigation that netted 13 arrests, including one man who was never at the rest area.
Twelve of the men, including the one who wasn’t there, pleaded guilty and paid a fine. James Henry of Empire contested the charges against him.
Jefferson County Judge Joseph Corabi decided September 26 to allow the videotape as evidence to support the public indecency charge against Henry. It became the only piece of evidence the jury saw.
Prior to the trial, the judge dismissed a disorderly conduct charge because, as a minor misdemeanor, it cannot be tried by a jury.
The only witness called by assistant prosecutor Richard Ferro was Saline Township police chief Ken Hayes. Ferro asked Hayes questions about his qualifications to handle evidence, how the cameras were placed, and what his department had done to curtail the alleged criminal activity at the rest area prior to placing the cameras.
Ferro asked Hayes three times how he was sure Henry was the man seen in the videotape, even after Henry’s attorney Sam Pate stipulated twice that it was.
Hayes claimed on the stand that immediately after May 9, the day Henry was filmed, "there was a dramatic impact" on the number of complaints.
The arrests were not made until July. Following the trial, Hayes could not explain the sudden reduction of complaints after Henry was filmed, even though no one knew of his investigation until two months later.
Pate did not cross-examine Hayes, or call other witnesses.
"We’ll let the tape speak for itself," he said.
The jury viewed less than two minutes of tape, from the time Henry walked into the restroom from his car, to the time he exited. Henry spent a total of 47 seconds in the restroom.
Pate then made a motion of acquittal, contending that the prosecution offered no witnesses and no evidence that Henry’s behavior offended others, as the Ohio Revised Code description of public indecency requires.
The judge rejected it, saying that someone could have been offended, had anyone else been in there at the time.
During closing arguments, Pate told the jury, "Nothing wrong and nothing improper has been done."
Pate also argued to the jury that the state did not present evidence that anyone was offended.
Henry, who is openly gay, is the only one of 13 arrested who fought the charges. The others pleaded guilty and paid fines.
Only known gay men, or men believed by the police to be gay, were arrested.
The jury deliberated a total of 35 minutes, twice asking the judge to read them the law, before returning a guilty verdict.
The judge sentenced Henry to a $250 fine and 30 days in jail, with 25 of the days suspended. The judge required Henry to either post another $500 bond, or be taken directly to jail. Henry posted the bond.
The verdict has been appealed to the Seventh District Court of Appeals.
According to Pate, there are three points to be appealed in this case, including the police chief’s testimony to the jury about "homosexual activity" and vandalism prior to installation of the cameras, which Pate says is not relevant to the case.
Pate still contends that the tape constituted illegal search, and should be thrown out, and that the prosecution failed to show how anyone was offended, a requirement for conviction under the law.
Henry is also surprised at the verdict and confident in the appeal, but said, "Even if it all gets thrown out, everyone will think I was playing with myself in front of that urinal, and I wasn’t."
by Eric Resnick
Akron--Film maker John Waters, who has risen to icon status by making films that disgust and entertain, is headlining the fifth annual Out in Akron cultural festival at the Highland Theater October 13 following an afternoon screening of his film Hairspray.
Waters spoke in a telephone interview September 26, from his room at Hollywood’s Chateau Marmont hotel. He fretted about his appearance on ABC’s Politically Incorrect, which was to be taped later that day.
"You have to be careful what you say," said Waters, "you know, since the attacks."
One would not expect that sort of sensitivity from the man affectionately given such monikers as "the Sultan of Sleaze," "the Baron of Bad Taste," and "the P.T. Barnum of Scatology," but like all other artists, Waters is far more complex than the sum of his work. In his case, it is that complexity that has allowed him to go from obscurity to legend in a commercial world bent on making everything by the numbers that guarantee financial return.
"The people running Hollywood now have grown up on my movies," said Waters. "It was their parents who were offended by them."
My first memory of a John Waters movie was as a college freshman. I didn’t go to see it, but I vividly remember the guys coming back to the dorm after seeing Waters’ 1972 classic Pink Flamingos. You can imagine how, to the Andy Griffith generation, the image of 350 lb. drag queen Divine eating dog doo-doo energized half the university’s football team for weeks. The next night, the theater showed the newly-released Polyester, featuring the highly-hyped "odorama" cards. Again, the guys returned to the dorm raising hell.
The movie-going public has come a long way, and so has John Waters.
Pre-1981 films featured his ensemble of actors and crew called the Dreamlanders. While still making all his films in his native Baltimore on shoestring budgets, Waters now attracts stars like Sonny Bono, Patty Hearst, Kathleen Turner, Tab Hunter, and Pia Zadora. Waters, like his idol Alfred Hitchcock, always casts himself in his films.
Following more than two decades of underground screenings in church basements, then college campuses, Waters hit it big with Hairspray in 1988. Now, his films are seen by a much larger audience, and he is seen as the clever, witty, social observer and comic, rather than just the grotesque one that excites the contemptible in all of us.
While on one hand, Waters is fond of saying, "I pride myself on the fact that my work has no socially redeeming value," he is also the first to say that his 1974 film Female Trouble is a commentary on the Viet Nam war.
"I guess the message of my films, if there is one," said Waters, "is to take a really bad social situation, and make it bearable by finding things to laugh at."
Waters is acclaimed for his handling of stars, and even re-defining some of their careers.
"I just pick people who like to make fun of themselves," said Waters. "And I only ask people who are likely to say ‘yes,’ because if word gets out that someone turns you down, investors get nervous."
Waters says he has always been out as a gay man, and has, at times, had to take stands on behalf of gay equality.
But he is a bit more reserved politically than one might expect.
Waters pointed out, "I grew up in the 1960s when those out for gay rights were real lefties, and the message was mixed with the anti-war movement and communism."
"Now I think we need to get beyond ‘gay’," said Waters.
"It isn’t descriptive enough."
Still, what critics have described as "queer sensibilities" run wild through Waters’ movies, as do his personal obsessions and curiosities. Some of that becomes clear if you think of Waters as a flamboyant, creative, sensitive guy, doing outrageous things, until the establishment notices his success, then chooses to remain at mainstream’s door, even though it is open to him.
"I don’t make offensive films," said Waters, "I make creative films. Hollywood makes offensive films, all the same stuff over and over."
Early on, Waters constantly battled law enforcement that considered his work in violation of Baltimore’s decency laws.
"The films always lost, too," says Waters proudly.
Asked what his parents think of his films, Waters says, "They have never seen them."
"Divine and I decided a long time ago that there are things our parents should never see," said Waters, "even though they financed some of them, and were paid back with interest."
Now 55, Waters is still working. "I get up every day and write at 6:30," he said, "so my life is on a rigid schedule. Even my hangovers are scheduled."
Waters says he is reading all the time, and always looking for inspiration for characters.
And, yes, there is someone significant in Waters’ life, but that is one part of the picture he does not share.
"I wouldn’t be attracted to someone who would want me to talk about him," said Waters.
Hairspray will be shown at 2:00 pm October 13 at Akron’s Highland Theater as part of the Out in Akron festival. The movie is free. Waters will appear live at 8 pm. Tickets are $16.50, and available at the Highland and through the Out in Akron web site, www.outinakron.org.
Compiled from wire reports by Brian DeWitt, Anthony Glassman and Patti Harris.
Judge sets Brandon Teena’s ‘basic value’ at $5,000
Falls City, Neb.—Brandon Teena’s mother, who had sought half a million dollars in damages stemming from her child’s death, was awarded under $100,000 on October 3.
Richardson County District Judge Orville Coady awarded Joann Brandon $80,000 for Brandon’s "panic, fear and pain" before his death, according to the Lincoln Journal Star. Coady also awarded $7,000 for emotional distress, $6,223 for funeral expenses and $5,000 for the loss of her child.
The Nebraska Supreme Court had ordered Coady to revisit his earlier ruling, when he had determined that Teena was partly responsible for his own death, and allocated the majority of the responsibility for damages to his killers, who are in prison and unable to pay.
Joann Brandon’s attorney has said that he will appeal the ruling, in which Coady noted that she made no attempt to bring her child home after his rape by his eventual killers, nor did Brandon Teena attempt to return to his mother’s home. Coady noted that the two had little relationship at the time of the murder, therefore Joann Brandon was only entitled to her child’s "basic value" of $5,000.
Coady also ruled that, while Sheriff Charles Laux behaved inappropriately in the case, there was no indication that his actions severely affected Brandon Teena.
Laux, after Brandon Teena reported his rape, interrogated Teena for hours, verbally abused him, and later informed the rapists, John Lotter and Marvin Nissen, that Teena had filed charges against them. Laux also was accused of failing to protect Teena from his killers, by not arresting them after the rape.
Lotter awaits execution for the murder of Teena and two others, and Nissen is serving a life sentence.
Hemingway scion found dead
Miami, Fla.—Gloria Hemingway, born Gregory Hemingway, the youngest son of author Ernest Hemingway, was found dead in a jail cell October 1. She was 69.
Gloria spent most of her life crossdressing, and finally underwent gender reassignment surgery.
She was arrested for indecent exposure after being found walking through Key Biscayne naked. When a police officer caught up with her she was sitting on a curb, trying to put on a flowered thong. She had a hospital gown flung over her shoulder, but her breast and genitals were exposed.
The cause of death was ruled to be hypertension and cardiovascular disease.
She had a long history of depression and alcohol abuse, a common ailment in her famous family. Her father and his siblings and father committed suicide, and her niece, actor and model Margaux Hemingway, was found dead in 1996 at age 41.
Gloria Hemingway was born in 1931 in Kansas City to Hemingway’s second wife, Pauline. Gloria tried to fit into her father’s macho life, and claimed to have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting against being transgendered, including voluntarily subjecting herself to electroshock therapy.
Court okays Canadian marriage ban
Vancouver, B.C.—Canada discriminates against same-sex couples by refusing to allow them to marry, but the discrimination is justified under the Charter of Rights, the British Columbia Supreme Court ruled October 3.
Justice Ian Pitfield concluded that politicians, not judges, should settle the matter.
The decision didn’t surprise the couples who launched the case, but they were disappointed anyway, said Barbara Findlay, lawyer for three of the couples.
Findlay said the couples will appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada if necessary. The case next goes to British Columbia’s highest court, the Court of Appeals.
"Our clients knew, when they started, that this would be a case that would go on for five years," she said.
"But the anguish of being told that we recognize that you’re being discriminated against but that discrimination is acceptable is very difficult to describe. The sense of being people who don’t count in the Canadian community is deeply sorrowing."
However, John Fisher, spokesman for the national gay equal rights group EGALE, said there was a bright spot because for the first time, a court has said it is discriminatory to deny same-sex couples the right to marry.
"We don’t feel we have lost anything. I think we have gained some advance. But there are still a number of steps ahead of us," Fisher said.
Canada does, however, grant gay and lesbian couples some marital rights under its common-law marriage statutes. The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that gay and lesbian couples must have the same rights as heterosexual married couples, and similar cases are currently in the courts in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec.
Partners should get the same relief
Washington, D.C.—The surviving partners of gay and lesbian victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks should get the same assistance and benefits that the families of other victims get, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., said October 6.
Clinton said that in the aftermath of the attacks, "we have to make clear that what we’re fighting for is our values."
That includes ending "discrimination against gays and lesbians once and for all," she said.
Clinton was the keynote speaker at the annual dinner of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay and lesbian political advocacy group.
Gay and lesbian partners should receive the same health insurance, inheritance, property taxes and other assistance as heterosexual ones, she said.
The terrorist attacks hung over the dinner and were alluded to repeatedly. "The attacks on our country were the extreme examples of a hate crime," Clinton said.
Three of the victims’ partners were recognized at the gathering: Tom Hay, the partner of David Charlebois, the co-pilot of the airliner that crashed into the Pentagon; Nancy Walsh, the partner of Carol Flyzik, a passenger aboard one of the jetliners that crashed into the World Trade Center; and Mike Lyons, the partner of Jack Keohane, who worked near the World Trade Center in New York and was killed as the buildings collapsed.
Bars raise funds for Sept. 11 victims
Columbus—The Eagle in Exile raised $1,400 to benefit the partners of LGBT people killed in last month’s terrorist attacks at an October 6 benefit.
The staff of the bar donated their tips for the evening, which totaled $700. The owner of the bar then matched their donations.
All of the LGBT bars in West Virginia have organized to run fundraisers for disaster relief in the month of November, and the Metronome Party at the Nickel in Cleveland on Saturday, October 27 will also benefit the relief effort.
Two more join ‘American Taliban’
New York City—Two more religious right figures have stepped forward to capitalize on the September 11 terrorist attacks, with comments similar to those made by Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson in the wake of the tragedies.
Lou Sheldon, chair of the Traditional Values Coalition, said relief agencies should not help same-sex partners of attack victims. He said that the agencies should focus on giving aid to widows whose spouses were killed in the attacks, and that aid should only be given on the basis of a man and a woman in a relationship.
He accused gay civil rights supporters of using the tragedy to further their agenda in an October 4 statement labeled "cruel and reprehensible" by People for the American Way.
The American Red Cross and Safe Horizons, two organizations providing disaster relief to survivors of victims of the tragedy, said earlier that they will not discriminate against partners of gay and lesbian victims.
Fred Phelps, who has made his name by protesting the funerals of gay men, has organized a protest of his congregation, primarily his family members, to celebrate the third anniversary of the death of Matthew Shepard.
Shepard was beaten and left tied to a fence near Laramie, Wyoming, and died of his injuries and hypothermia.
Phelps has planned an October 15 demonstration in Missoula, Montana, and has blamed the Sept. 11 attacks on the "fags and fag-enablers" in the country. He has also changed his motto from "God hates fags" to "God hates America."
Author says Hitler was gay
Berlin—In what might be the 20th century’s greatest case of internalized homophobia, a new biography has revealed historical evidence that Adolph Hitler was gay.
Hitler’s Secret: the Double Life of a Dictator by German historian Lothair Machtan cites police records of young men who had sex with Hitler before his rise to the chancellorship, as well reports from people who knew him.
Otto von Lossow, a German army general, kept the police records on Hitler as a form of insurance in case Hitler ever tried to push him out of the way.
Hitler, while in the army, also had an affair for five years with fellow soldier Ernst Schmidt. That relationship cost Hitler a promotion to a non-commissioned officer position.
Ernst Röhm, the leader of the Sturm Abteilung storm troopers, or SA, was murdered along with the rest of his division by the SS, Hitler’s secret police. According to Machtan, a professor of history at Bremen University, Hitler ordered the SA wiped out because Röhm was blackmailing Hitler with information about his sexuality.
From the beginning of his rise to power in the 1930s, Hitler worried that his past relationships could be used against him. He had a number of his former friends, Röhm included, killed to protect his position.
Dan Bucatinsky on producing All Over the Guy, which he stars in
by Kaizaad Kotwal
Love is a many-splendored thing, or so they say. But those of us who have been in love also know that it is a very messy thing. All Over the Guy, a new film by Julie Davis, is about the splendor and mess that is this thing called love.
Eli and Tom are set up on a date by their best friends. Tom is a special education teacher who is trying to give up his ways of alcohol, smoking and promiscuous sex. Eli, who grew up with very touchy-feely therapist parents, is more reserved and conservative.
Both are looking for that perfect mate, and like many in that boat, they fail to recognize that blessing when it is standing there right in front of their noses.
Dan Bucatinsky, who wrote and produced the film, stars as Eli. Wearing three hats on a low budget film is an extremely challenging job. For Bucatinsky, though, All Over the Guy has "been a dream come true." It has played in 14 film festivals, mostly gay and lesbian ones, in cities such as Austin, Seattle, San Francisco, Honolulu, and Kansas City.
"The film has done well in places I never imagined even visiting," said Bucatinsky. People respond favorably to both the humor and the relationship aspects of the film. Even though the film focuses on a gay relationship, Bucatinsky feels that the film is universal.
"The fact that the central characters are gay," he continued, "is really besides the point."
Bucatinsky adapted the story from a two-character, one-act play of his about a heterosexual couple.
"That was a really sketchy precursor to the film," explained Bucatinsky, "and it was fun to expand it to a full length piece and to get to meet the parents and the friends who are merely mentioned in the play version."
"Gay is in, isn’t it?" he rhetorically asks in response to questions about why he changed the central relationship to a gay one.
"There is this appetite right now," he continued, "for diverse, contemporary and gay stories."
As a first-time producer he felt a lot of pressure, from others as well as from himself, to make the best film possible. "As a producer you get to carry the tone of the set," he said, "and there are a lot of expectations."
The film’s budget came in at approximately $500,000, which by film standards is not a lot of money, but as Bucatinsky said, "It’s a lot more than I’ve ever seen."
Bucatinsky, who grew up in New York, has been writing and performing in theater for years, doing a lot of comedy and improv. He realized that in order to get roles that he wants to play, he would have to write them for himself, which is what he did with All Over the Guy. He claimed that he has "never been happier than when I was on the set."
"If you’re demented enough to go into show business in the first place," he explained, "then it’s pretty amazing to be on set and get that kind of respect for twenty-five days."
Richard Ruccolo (Two Guys and a Girl) got the part of Tom after showing up at an audition. Ruccolo, who had played a very heterosexual role for four years on ABC, was eager to try something new and completely different.
The other good part, of course, was Bucatinsky’s.
Playing Eli was a challenge for him not so much because of the demands of the role per se, but more so because of his multiple duties.
"Putting the other hats away and letting myself be in the scene and feel the scene was the real challenge," he said.
One of the tougher scenes to shoot was the love scene between Tom and Eli. "We shot the sex scene on the second day of shooting," he explained, "and there I was in a room that was a hundred and three degrees hot with a guy I barely knew." Bucatinsky said that he was "more uncomfortable for Ruccolo’s sake."
Bucatinsky is not necessarily uncomfortable discussing his sexuality but he does believe that as an actor it has the potential to get him pigeonholed.
"Before I was in or out," he explained, "I had played a lot of gay roles and that will continue."
"I know I am not competing with Brad Pitt," he added, "however, I know that I will have to continue to write roles for myself."
An obvious question for this actor is about how similar he is to the character he portrays. "There are a lot of similarities," he admitted, "but I have never been in a relationship like the one in the film."
Bucatinsky’s mom, like Eli’s, is a therapist. The actor also believes that like Eli, he is neurotic. "Well not really neurotic," he hastily added, "rather I like to think of myself as concerned, responsible and someone who pays attention to detail."
Eli in the film seems to be somewhat of a hopeless romantic. Not Bucatinsky, who labels himself as a "pragmatic romantic." He likes "to make special occasions special" but he does cringe from sentimentality. For instance, "I will buy roses and then get a really flip card to go with it." For him it is essential to "love in the moment."
Bucatinsky is also one to live in the moment because he is "motivated by fear." Some of his fears include "getting mugged, getting audited, acquiring an extra chin, losing hair, getting a bad review, dying in car crash."
"Dying, period!" he exclaimed with a sigh.
Bucatinsky came out to his parents at twenty-five and for the last eight years he has been in a relationship with filmmaker Don Roos (The Opposite of Sex, Bounce). He isn’t sure that dating someone in the biz is a great idea, but the two had been in too deep before they could do anything about it. According to Bucatinsky, "it is a challenge" to be in a relationship where both partners are filmmakers.
"But I think it is more difficult for me," he admitted, "because Don puts the work away when he comes home and I seem to carry it with me at all times."
Roos has made "much bigger films," Bucatinsky said, but they still have to deal with the same issues, including dealing with the press.
"Our relationship," he concluded, "is good when it’s great and a challenge when it’s difficult."
Roos and Bucatinsky were set up by a friend and while it wasn’t instant love, it was "friendship at first sight." At the time, Bucatinsky was a struggling actor in his twenties, selling T-shirts in a theater.
"Don wanted someone older and with direction," he admitted, "and he got neither." Both have made the right compromises and managed to stay together.
"The ultimate test to commitment is you care enough to do everything to try and stay together."
As for the future, Bucatinsky has many irons in the fire. He has just sold a TV pilot to CBS for an hour series format which he describes as the "first HBO-like programming for network television." After "whoring in Hollywood for money" for a long time he is thrilled "to be earning a bit of living in two years."
As for the films that his partner has made, Bucatinsky said that he is a "huge fan of each of his films for very different reasons." But for now, he is totally focused on All Over the Guy and getting the word out.
"I know that for a movie of this size with no advertising budget," he concluded, "word of mouth is extremely important."
He is right, because if word of mouth can help his film succeed then it makes it just a little bit easier for the next independent feature.
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