Gay New York in shock after
by Rex Wockner
New York City--Gay New York is in shock along with everyone else after terrorists crashed hijacked commercial jetliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon Tuesday morning. Both towers of the Trade Center collapsed, as did one wall of the Pentagon. A fourth hijacked jetliner en route to San Francisco crashed 80 miles east of Pittsburgh. The cumulative death tolls may reach five figures.
"[I] will never be okay again," wrote veteran New York City gay journalist Andy Humm in an e-mail. "Sure to have lost friends. Monstrous. Don�t know what to do. Don�t know where to go. My roommate, Jed, witnessed it from his office across the Hudson in Jersey City. Called me to turn on the TV. Saw the second plane hit live on TV.
"Went to an upper floor here in London Terrace and saw the buildings burning. Went out for a few minutes. Came back and they were gone. Gone."
"My father and three brothers own and run two coffee shops down there; one is just up the street from World Trade Center," said gay journalist and author Michelangelo Signorile.
"They got to the bomb shelter in their respective buildings just after the explosions blew their windows out and just before the Twin Towers collapsed. One of their shops was completely destroyed in the tidal wave of debris from the collapse, the other badly damaged. Amazingly, we were able to speak to them, on and off, on the telephone throughout the whole thing.
"They were, as you can imagine, very shaken up. They were mostly okay physically, suffered from smoke inhalation. They made it to the Staten Island Ferry on foot, the only way off of Manhattan right now. My brother reports seeing terrible things on the streets in terms of damage to people."
"Bicycled down near city hall," said veteran New York City gay activist Bill Dobbs. "Lots of face masks, improvised and otherwise. Real dust storm in some spots. Little traffic except emergency vehicles.
"Dust all over the streets there, places several inches deep . . . Mood is incredulous, emotional but calm . . . Trade Towers are a part of my daily life, seeing them and the Empire State Building is quintessence of Manhattan for me. Now giant clouds of gray black smoke obscure where they would be. Can�t imagine what [it was] like when structures collapsed."
"My boyfriend Gary was in his new office just off Wall Street . . . when the first plane hit," said veteran ACT UP and AIDS-treatment activist Peter Staley.
"He called me at 8:50, asking me if anything was on the news, since he had heard a boom, and office paper was blowing past his window. I watched the second plane hit live on CNN. Gary was able to catch a [number] 2/3 subway train home before the buildings collapsed."
"My business partner, Gayzette publisher Frank Williams, had just come up from the subway two blocks from the World Trade Center, smelled smoke and headed toward the crowd gathered at the end of the block when the first building began to collapse," said Carol Fezuk, editor of the Rehoboth Beach [Delaware] Gayzette. "He said there was bedlam and chaos as people ran over and atop each other in an attempt to find shelter. He crawled over bodies and others grabbed him to get ahead of the cloud of dust and debris that enveloped the streets of the city. He�s seems okay . . . has some chest pain and congestion from the dust."
The Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund and the American Foundation for AIDS Research are located near the lower Manhattan disaster area, but apparently no one from the organizations was injured.
"Apart from choking our way through clouds of dust and soot, those of us at Lambda Legal Defense made it out fine and walked ourselves home," said staff attorney Jennifer Middleton. "We are in the same building as AmFAR, and though the building was not in harm�s way, all of us inside exited to unbelievable debris amid throngs of evacuees making their way north."
Playwright, author and ACT UP cofounder Larry Kramer woke up in his Greenwich Village apartment shortly after the attacks.
"The World Trade Center was a towering smoke stack billowing unbelievable amounts of huge white clouds," Kramer said. "I turned on my TV set and for the next hour I rushed from the window to the TV and back to compare. The reality was almost too much to bear looking at.
"I lay down on my bed and I started to feel peculiar. I don�t know how to describe the feeling exactly. I felt my life, and everyone�s life, and this country, had lost control. God knows I�ve been through hell with my health this past couple of years, but this was different. I guess if I had studied Sartre he would have told me it was existential. My existence was no longer my existence.
"I called the few friends I know who work in the World Trade Center and discovered they were all safe. Then, for whatever reason, I decided to try and go through my planned day."
Among the openly gay people known dead is New York Fire Department Catholic chaplain Rev. Michael Judge.
"He was a decent wonderful human being," said journalist Humm. "When gays were kept out of the St. Patrick�s parade, he gave me an interview on the street telling me how terrible it was for us to be discriminated against and for the church to be doing it. I saw him at many demonstrations for gay and AIDS causes, showing up in his Franciscan monk�s cassock. And he was equally beloved by the Fire Department, there at every major fire tragedy in the city lending moral support to firefighters."
David Angell, 54, of Pasadena, Calif., executive producer of the NBC TV show Frasier, died in one of the plane crashes. Angell, who was straight, was involved in the gay protests against "Dr. Laura" Schlessinger and wrote the episode of Cheers in which Sam�s old buddy comes out to him and the gang fears Cheers is going to become a gay bar.
Outside Washington, D.C., where one of the hijacked jetliners crashed into the Pentagon causing major damage and killing at least 800 people, activist John Aravosis said, "Literally every ten minutes I was looking out my window, expecting the Capitol building to go up in flames. A friend in a senator�s office got a call at 10 a.m. that a jet was heading right for the Congress, and they evacuated the building, fast. The only thing you could hear outside all day was sirens and F-16s flying overhead protecting the city�s airspace, which I suppose should have been comforting, but it was more creepy, in a Beirut kind of way, than soothing."
Performers Kate & Merdith. Photos: Becky McMahon
by Anthony Glassman
Kirkersville, Ohio�Thirteen was far from an unlucky number for the 13th annual Ohio Lesbian Festival, which took place Saturday, September 8 at Frontier Ranch near Kirkersville, just east of Columbus.
"I think that it certainly was a successful festival," said Lesbian Business Association president Sherrill Howard. The LBA, with the help of a multitude of volunteers, puts on the Ohio Lesbian Festival every year.
Just under 2,000 women showed up this year, a relatively low figure compared to previous years where the number was at least slightly over 2,000, but Howard attributes that to a cloudburst shortly before the start of the festival.
"It was just a really great day for women�s energy," Howard said. "I�m not sure if I would have gotten through [the September 11 terrorist attacks] as emotionally centered if I didn�t have that place of sharing before me."
"I have never attended an all-lesbian festival before," said Christina Gross, who was awed by the events of the day. "I felt that there was a sense of unity and strength among the crowd. Also, I felt that we are all part of a big family that deals with the same issues and problems in everyday life."
A big part of that family were the entertainers on the day and night stage, reflecting both musically and ethnically the diversity of the lesbian community in Ohio. Kim Batey played country music, while JUCA (Joy, Understanding, Creativity and Abundance) played reggae with influences from a half-dozen other genres of music.
Also playing were natives Kate and Meredith, the Irish jazz duo Zrazy, who won a 2000 GLAAD Media Award, and up-and-comers Bitch and Animal, whose folk/punk angst and ire are making a major name for them at women�s events across the country.
"I think the best thing we did was bring in a lot of new performers, new to the festival," explained Carol-Lynn Manche, one of the event co-chairs along with Howard and Chris Cozad. "We had to turn performers away, because we only have so much time in a one-day event for performances. It�s a nice problem to have."
There were nearly 85 booths in the merchant area this year, ranging from groups offering informational literature to craftspeople selling their wares.
"I was impressed by the talents displayed by the artisans in areas such as woodworking, sand sculpting, photography and flute-making," Gross said.
There were also an array of classes and workshops presented under the title "Lesbian University," including discussions on female health, motherhood, grieving for loved ones, as well as self-defense and yoga workshops.
Next year�s festival, however, is in serious doubt. Frontier Ranch may be sold to make way for a housing subdivision, leaving the festival without its traditional home. A moratorium on new developments in the flood plain it occupies gave the festival another year at the ranch.
Howard also noted a decline in the number of volunteers making themselves available for such events, making things difficult for festivals that are so dependent on their volunteers.
"The futures of such endeavors really fall on the shoulders of women getting back to their communities," she said.
Volunteering at the Ohio Lesbian Festival means the women are supporting a year of programs sponsored by the Lesbian Business Association as well. The festival is the LBA�s largest fundraiser of the year, providing much of the funding for the year�s services to the lesbian community.
by Eric Resnick
Canton--The ninth annual fundraising walk organized by the Tri-County AIDS Coalition raised a record amount of money to be granted to organizations that care for people with AIDS throughout Stark, Carroll, Tuscarawas, and Wayne counties.
According to coalition president Ken Herdt of Canton, the September 9 walk raised $6,100, even though there were fewer walkers than in previous years. Herdt credits the increase in funds raised to the mail solicitation done prior to the event.
For the second year, 80 panels of the Names Project AIDS memorial quilt were displayed in Stadium Park next to the area where the 10-kilometer walk began and ended.
Jamie Bartrug, owner of Canton�s 540 Club gay bar, donated the cost of shipping the quilt panels. The two AIDS Walk events are the only times the quilt has come to the Canton area.
The Tri-County AIDS Coalition was formed in 1992 and has made grants in excess of $40,000 to organizations providing services including housing, emergency medications, food and necessary supplies not covered by food stamps.
The AIDS Walk has become a major LGBT social event in the area, giving a safe place for the largely invisible Canton area community to come out. A picnic and drag softball game followed the walk.
by Eric Resnick
Toledo--In the midst of a national tragedy, Toledoans went to the polls September 11 to decide who would be on the general ballot in November for city council.
Two openly gay candidates, incumbent Louis Escobar and Dennis Lange, will be on the November ballot for a council-at-large seat. Openly gay Scott Robinson did not defeat incumbent Democrat Edna Brown for the District 4 seat.
There were 15 candidates seeking six at-large seats. The 12 top vote-getters will be on the November ballot, when the top six will be seated.
The at-large candidates are elected non-partisan. Escobar is a Democrat. Lange is a Republican.
Of the 15 in the primary, Escobar finished fifth with 18,506 votes. Ahead of him are the four of the other incumbents.
Lange, a newcomer, finished ninth with 8,431 votes.
In District 4, incumbent Brown got 3,609 votes. Her openly gay challenger got 767.
Lange, 48, is the owner of Pumpernickels Deli and Cafe and formerly served on of the village council of his hometown, Mantua, near Kent.
Escobar, 51, left the priesthood in 1981 and is now the executive director of Adelante, Inc., a mental health agency.
Escobar joined Mary Wiseman in Dayton as Ohio�s first openly gay elected officials in 1997, when both were elected to their city councils. Wiseman announced in January that she will not seek re-election.
Escobar has been endorsed by the Washington, D.C. Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, and has the endorsement of the Lucas County Democratic Party.
Escobar and Lange will be joined on Ohio ballots in November by Democrat James Moore-McDermott, who seeks an at- large seat on the Bucyrus city council.
Two openly gay candidates seek ward council seats in Cleveland. Michael "Buck" Harris is running in Ward 17. Joe Santiago is running in Ward 14. Both will vie in the city�s October primary for the opportunity to run in November.
Openly gay Edward Hudson-Bey has withdrawn his candidacy in Cleveland�s Ward 8.
Openly gay John Schlagetter is running for one of nine at-large seats on Cincinnati�s city council.
Mayor triumphs in recall
In Tempe, Arizona, openly gay Mayor Neil Giuliano beat back a recall attempt by more than a 2-1 margin.
Giuliani�s foes, while claiming their opposition to his stewardship was not related to his sexual orientation, pointed to his efforts to keep city fundraising dollars from going to the Boy Scouts because of their anti-gay policy as a reason for his recall. Other opponents� reasons centered around Giuliani�s support for his own "pet projects," including a light rail system.
Preliminary results showed the effort to recall Giuliani failing, 31.5%-68%.
In Massachusetts, however, state Sen. Cheryl Jacques lost her bid to become the Democratic candidate running to replace the late U.S. Rep. Joe Moakley.
Jacques, a lesbian, made her pro-choice stance as a major selling point, but still fell short in the election, coming in with 28% of the vote, compared to the winner, state Sen. Stephen Lynch, with 40%.
The other two candidates, both state senators, tried to paint themselves as a middle ground between the extremes of Jacques and Lynch, who Jacques accused of being too conservative for this primarily Democratic district.
by Eric Resnick
Columbus--A man convicted, then acquitted of the 1997 stabbing murder of Glenn Brown, a gay man, was found drowned in the river at Dodge Park August 18.
The body of Michael Belcher, 26, was found in the river fully dressed and wearing shoes. There has been no suicide note found. Toxicology reports are still pending.
Belcher was convicted of murdering Brown in 1998, then acquitted last March in a second trial. The basis for the second trial was a ruling that prosecutors in the first one violated his Fifth Amendment rights.
Belcher�s fingerprints were found in Brown�s apartment, on the toilet and on beer cans. This led to his conviction in the first trial.
Belcher said the men met at a bar and spent the night together. Police said they met at a crack house.
At the second trial, it was revealed that fingerprints on the murder weapon did not match Belcher, or Brown.
Belcher maintained that his arrest and conviction was due to pressure on police to arrest someone from the Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization, which works to end violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
BRAVO director Gloria McCauley was subpoenaed to testify at both trials, but not called to the stand either time.
Police, prosecutors and BRAVO objected to the second trial, and all issued statements asserting their belief that the man guilty of murdering Brown had been set free.
Belcher�s girlfriend has suggested that he has been murdered by Brown�s real killer to keep him quiet. Police have not publicly issued any theories on Belcher�s death.
by Eric Resnick
Ravenna, Ohio--A Portage County jury returned a 5-3 split decision in favor of acquittal for a Franklin Township man who hit a gay Kent State University student in a Denny�s restaurant.
The jury of six men and two women returned the decision September 6 following more than a day of deliberation. The split decision means that Brian Lydick, 28, was not found guilty, nor cleared, of charges of assault.
A new trial has been scheduled for October 2.
Lydick, and openly gay Kent student Mikell Nagy, 22, had a confrontation at a Denny�s restaurant in the early hours of April 20. During that confrontation, Lydick called Nagy a faggot, and the two exchanged threats due to Nagy�s sexual orientation.
Nagy suffered cuts and bruises to his head and lost four teeth as a result of Lydick�s punch.
Following the punch, Lydick fled to his brother�s home, where he was later arrested by Portage County sheriff�s deputies.
At the trial, the arresting officer testified that when he arrived, Lydick told him, "I know why you are here," and "I don�t know why I hit him."
Lydick�s attorney, Jerry Goodwin of Ravenna, said Lydick hit Nagy out of self defense and concern for the safety of his brother, who was also at the table.
"This was not a gay-bashing case," said Goodwin. "It was almost like a bar fight."
Goodwin said there was not much difference between the evidence presented by the prosecution and by the defense, but "what started the incident was Mr. Nagy."
Because Nagy testified at the trial, he was not permitted to be in the courtroom.
Observer Eric Van Sant said Goodwin painted Nagy as a threat to his client. "He tried to make Mikell out to be a �crazed gay person� and asked the jury what they would do if they were in a booth and a crazy homosexual started screaming at them."
Van Sant faulted Assistant Prosecutor Pat Condin for not cutting through the defense tactics.
"He presented all the facts of the case in a straightforward manner," said Van Sant, "But he lacked the vocabulary and understanding of what gay people face, and he couldn�t stop the defense from using the prejudice of the jury."
Van Sant and Goodwin differed on their descriptions of the jury.
"There was no way that jury was going to understand Mikell," said Van Sant, who described six of them as over the age of 50 and all of them as unsophisticated.
Goodwin said the jury tended to be young for Portage County, and affluent with managerial jobs.
Portage County Prosecutor Victor Vigluicci said both Condin and Goodwin used pre-emptive challenges to disqualify at least one potential juror during jury selection.
Vigluicci also said that verdicts of guilt and innocence require unanimous juries, so, "they didn�t buy the self-defense argument, either."
"Most people," said Goodwin, "have some feeling of homophobia under the surface, and the truth is, everyone knows it is there. I just presented facts.
Vigluicci said his office is reviewing the testimony given at the first trial and will be interviewing the jurors before the new trial in front of a new jury begins October 2.
"Our objective is to get to the truth of what happened," said Vigluicci, "and have that truth put in front of the jury."
"Once the jury is seated," said Vigluicci, "the defense has several ways it can go. We never know what the defense strategy will be."
But he also said that Condin will likely "adjust his strategy" before the next trial.
"I was surprised at the verdict, given the facts," said Vigluicci.
He explained that the judge makes the decision whether or not the jury can consider self-defense, and in this case, he did.
"We also went with the assault charge instead of the felonious assault charge because the physical harm standard in Ohio is very high, and we were afraid we couldn�t meet it," said Vigluicci.
The lesser charge still carries a sentence of up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Lydick has been out on bond since April 21.
Goodwin countered that there were four people who were there that the police did not get statements from. Two of them testified at the trial. One of them, Jeffery Hutsell, is Lydick�s brother, and Michael Holland grew up with Lydick.
Goodwin said Nagy�s testimony remained consistent.
"Many times, when a case makes the papers, people take what is reported as their testimony. Nagy didn�t do that."
"But Nagy said that he appraoched Lydick�s table, admonishing them that what they said was inappropriate, and threatened to kick their asses, one at a time," said Goodwin. "This was really a pissing contest that escalated."
Van Sant said, "This shows that if you are gay in Portage County and someone assaults you it is open season."
A prosection witness, student Kim Gritzer, testified that Nagy was defending himself from Lydick and his friends. "They made contact first," she said.
Gritzer, who was with Nagy the night of the incident, said Nagy and the people with them were all sober, even though they had come from the Interbelt, an Akron gay nightclub. She said it was Lydick and his brother who had been drinking.
Gritzer said that when Goodwin questioned her, he made sure to include in the questions for the jury to hear, suggestions that Interbelt has a reputation as a market for the party drug Ecstasy.
When asked, Goodwin did not deny doing it.
Nagy said he was shocked by the jury�s decision. "I thought this was going to be an open and shut case," he said.
As a result of this incident, Nagy has moved to Cleveland and transferred to Cleveland State University.
"It�s safer there," he said.
by Eric Resnick
Cleveland--An organization campaigning for the rights of workers featured Pride at Work into its annual meeting held in Cleveland September 6-9.
Jobs with Justice, a coalition of labor, community, religious, and progressive constituency groups, featured the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender constituency group of the AFL-CIO at its conclave, for the purpose of calling attention to the needs and rights of LGBT workers.
Officers and the executive director of Pride at Work led training sessions throughout the day that were attended by 100 of the nearly 900 expected conference participants.
The training was taken from Pride at Work�s diversity training manual, and included role-playing exercises and brainstorming solutions to scenarios taken from real case studies.
Pride at Work was the only one of the five AFL-CIO constituency groups on the conference program. This was the third consecutive year the LGBT group has done its training for the Jobs with Justice coalition.
According to Marta Ames, interim executive director of Pride at Work, the two groups often work together.
"The two groups we work most closely with," said Ames, "are Jobs with Justice and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. In many cases, we are doing the same work."
Pride at Work co-president Nancy Wohlforth of San Francisco, who also addressed the conference banquet, said the way to build acceptance of LGBT workers is to build coalitions with others who stand up for workers� rights, and remain true to the cause.
"We can�t get caught playing the boss�s game of divide and conquer," said Wohlforth. "People will learn to respect our struggle for equality when we join others also fighting for equality."
"In our own workplaces, if we build up credibility as one who fights for all rights," said Wohlforth, "people will respect us and join us when it is time to introduce ours."
Tom Barbera, vice president of organizing for Pride at Work said the reciprocation between the two groups helps everyone recognize the places where the needs of all workers intersect.
He added that stereotypes of LGBT people can hurt the majority of LGBT workers. "We hope to give a voice to a part of our community that is typically overlooked."
Barbera added, "Our presence here is on behalf of working class LGBT people. Often, the voices of LGBT people are those of white males with financial resources."
Barbera agrees that in many cases union membership has not caught up with leadership�s commitment to LGBT equality in the workplace. "Where we are as LGBT workers depends on where you are as a worker."
Barbera called places like the deep south, where rights for all workers, including LGBT workers, is not yet being done, "ground zero."
"But a great deal of progress has been made as we continue to place LGBT people on state labor federations and local labor councils," he said. "The reciprocal relationships that lead to progress often come from being together at the table."
Pride at Work credits this strategy of reciprocity for some of its workplace victories, including its work with the United Auto Workers. Last summer, with the guidance of Pride at Work, the United Auto Workers negotiated with the major automobile manufacturers for domestic partner benefits for same-sex couples.
Following the sessions, Pride at Work joined 700 Jobs with Justice members marching on Case Western University.
Marchers petitioned university administration to make its food service contract with Sedexo contingent on Sedexo dropping barriers to its Case campus employees� attempts to organize.
by Jay Lindsay
Boston�The decision to tell his family he was gay didn�t go well for one Bridgewater State student. His father threatened to cut him off financially and left the junior feeling "like a piece of trash."
"There�s no way I could support myself," said the 22-year-old, who asked that his name not be used. "I was very, very scared."
A new scholarship offered by the school could make it easier for gay and lesbian students to come out by helping them if their families refuse to support them financially.
The school says it�s the only program of its kind.
The 22-year-old student�s parents kept paying for school after his mother insisted, but not everyone gets that break, said communications professor Susan Holton, co-chair of the school�s Safe Colleges Task Force, an advocacy group for gays.
Bob Haynor, Bridgewater�s outreach education coordinator, started raising funds for the scholarship in April 2000 after meeting students who were cut off after they came out. About $8,200 has been donated so far. Haynor hopes the first awards will be given next year.
The college�s Frank-Tremblay Safe Colleges Scholarship is named for lesbian folk singer Lucie Blue Tremblay, who raised money for the scholarship, and U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., who is gay and represents the Bridgewater area.
Frank has not raised money for the scholarship but said he was flattered to be associated with it.
"The potential for rejection or the fact of rejection is a crushing blow," he said. "Add to that an inability to continue your education . . . Obviously we wish this situation didn�t happen but it�s important to have this resource available."
Other schools have boosted financial aid for gay students cut off by parents, said Robert Schoenberg, president of the National Consortium of Directors of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Resources in Higher Education. But he was uncertain how many, if any, aim funds specifically at students who are financially estranged from parents.
Schoenberg said gays and parents often have their first conversations about sexual orientation in the early years of college, when students are particularly dependent on parents.
"Students choose to go outside the city where they live and do some exploring and perhaps come out," he said.
In addition to private donations, school officials also expect to receive some money when the state matches private funds raised for the Bridgewater State College Foundation, of which the scholarship is part.
Grant sizes haven�t been determined. Haynor said tuition and fees at Bridgewater are about $2,800, so even a small grant can help.
"It�s more than just money," he said. "I think it�s somebody saying, �We want you to be here.� "
Compiled from wire reports by Brian DeWitt, Anthony Glassman and Patti Harris.
State senate passes partner expansion
Sacramento, Calif.�The state senate passed a bill September 10 that would expand California�s domestic partnership law, granting more benefits to couples who register with the secretary of state.
Domestic partnership is open to same-sex couples, as well as opposite-sex couples who are both over 62 years old. The new bill would grant people the ability to relocate with their partners without losing their unemployment benefits, use sick leave to care for their partner, provide health benefits to domestic partners as well as tax exemptions for those benefits, sue for wrongful death, make medical decisions and other similar legal benefits currently accorded to married heterosexual couples.
In the 40-member senate, 23 Democrats voted for the bill, 11 Republicans voted against it, while three Republicans and three Democrats did not vote.
The measure has already been passed by the state assembly, where it now returns so that body can approve changes made by the senate. With the assembly�s approval, it will then go to Gov. Gray Davis, who has said that he will sign it.
Two other states have domestic partner laws granting some of the benefits of marriage to same-sex couples. Hawaii has a limited measure passed in 1998 at the same time as a same-sex marriage ban amendment, and Vermont has a broad "civil union" law.
Campground attack trial delayed
Lihu�e, Hawaii�The attempted murder trial for two Kaua�i men accused of attacking a group of campers because they were gay was rescheduled for December 3, officials said September 10.
The trial for Orion Macomber, 19, and Eamonn Carolan, 18, originally was scheduled to begin September 12.
The two men are accused of going on a rampage at Kaua�i�s Polihale State Park that included setting a tent on fire while campers were inside.
No one was seriously injured in the May 26 incident.
Kaua�i police said Macomber and Carolan were found in a pickup truck with two cans of kerosene.
The campers had provided the license number of a truck they said tried to run them down at the park.
The two have pleaded not guilty to charges including first-degree attempted murder, and are being held in lieu of $250,000 bail.
Man beaten outside bar dies
New York City�A man beaten outside a Queens gay bar three weeks ago has died of his injuries, authorities said.
Police were investigating the fatal attack on Edgar Garzon on Aug. 15 as a possible hate crime.
Garzon, 35, died September 4 at Elmhurst Hospital Center in Queens without regaining consciousness, police said.
Gay activists have raised nearly $3,000 in reward money for tips leading to an arrest.
Garzon, a native of Colombia who worked as a theater set designer, was beaten with a blunt object by one of two men in a red car as he left the Friends Tavern on Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights. Police initially believed that the man had fled with Garzon�s wallet, but the wallet was later found in Garzon�s apartment, police said.
Spingola arrested in Wisconsin
Madison, Wis.�Street preacher Charles Spingola, already facing three charges stemming from a flag-burning incident at Columbus� 2001 Pride Holiday, was arrested for attempting to strangle a gay man on September 6.
The assault took place on the campus of the University of Wisconsin. Spingola and two of his followers went to the campus to speak about abortion and gays.
During Spingola�s tirade, one of the men with him told a gay man that it was time for him to go to hell and started strangling him, according to witnesses.
Spingola, of Newark, Ohio, was arrested along with William Hoffman of Montrose, West Virginia, and Daniel Holman of West Allis, Wisconsin.
Spingola faces charges of public burning, assault and aggravated menacing stemming from his actions in Columbus on June 23. It is not yet known what charges, if any, he faces in Madison.
He was also convicted of criminal damaging in a 1999 Pride Holiday incident when he climbed a flagpole in front of the Statehouse, ripped down a rainbow flag and threw it to supporters who then burned it. He appealed the conviction, which was upheld last June.
Cleanup signs didn�t last two weeks
Sioux Falls, S.D.�Two Adopt-a-Highway signs that were recently erected along Highway 38 for the Sioux Empire Gay and Lesbian Coalition are missing.
The two signs crediting the coalition for picking up litter on that part of the road disappeared less than two weeks after they were put up in mid-August.
DOT officials have ordered new signs to replace the missing ones.
Barb Himmel-Roberts, president of the Sioux Empire Gay and Lesbian Coalition, said the group will pick up trash along the highway with or without the sign.
The group was initially denied the signs because, the Department of Transportation said, they are an advocacy group. However, other advocacy groups, including political parties, are routinely given the signs.
After being ridiculed by the state�s newspapers for withholding the signs, and after the gay and lesbian coalition sued, Gov. Bill Janklow reversed himself and allowed them.
He then announced that all Adopt-a-Highway signs would be taken down at the end of the year and replaced by generic signs without sponsor names on them.
Jailed gay men say they are tortured
Cairo, Egypt�Fifty men facing trial after being arrested on a boat described as a floating gay bar are accusing their jailers of torturing them on a weekly basis.
According to some of the prisoners, they are forced to remove their shirts and are beaten with wires or by hand.
Sherif Farahat, the main defendant, told observers in the courtroom that interrogators kept him blindfolded for three weeks, beating him during questioning and using electric shocks on him and the other prisoners.
Farahat stands accused of "exploiting Islam to spread extreme ideas." Human rights groups say that the charges are trumped up and were filed because the men are gay. Egyptian law does not specifically outlaw homosexuality, but the predominantly Muslim country is very disapproving of it.
The men are being tried in state security court, whose sentences cannot be appealed.
Officer must receive back pay
Los Angeles�A judge has ordered the police department to reverse the suspension of a former officer who won a legal settlement that dealt with alleged discrimination and harassment toward gays within the agency.
Superior Court Judge Carolyn Kuhl said September 4 the department must provide former Sgt. Mitchell Grobeson with pay plus interest for a 195-day suspension in which he received no salary. The judge�s order didn�t specify the amount owed to Grobeson.
The gay officer wore his police uniform without permission while attending a gay pride festival and in a magazine advertisement recruiting gays to the LAPD.
Grobeson and two other officers won $770,000 in a civil suit in February 1993. As part of the damages, the department promised to improve its hiring and training of gay officers. But Grobeson claims the department failed to follow up with the reforms and filed another suit in January 1996. In the second suit, he also alleges that fellow officers and supervisors harassed him.
Six months later, the department filed misconduct charges again Grobeson. He later retired on a stress disability claim and challenged the suspensions in court.
In 1999, Kuhl threw out the suspensions because the department�s Board of Rights modified the formal charges against Grobeson without giving him fair notice.
Negotiations between Grobeson and the department for a possible settlement broke down and his attorney sought an order asking for back pay.
The suit seeking to enforce the 1993 settlement is still pending.
Finding love in a forgotten hometown
by Anthony Glassman
The world of entertainment writing is filled with false analogies. X movie is just like Y movie, only with Z twist. Only X is seldom even similar to Y, with or without Z.
Such was the case with Big Eden, which has been referred to as a gay Northern Exposure.
Aside, of course, from the difference in locales--Exposure was set in Alaska, while Big Eden is a town in Montana--there are the completely disparate premises. In the Northern Exposure TV show, Dr. Rob Morrow is sent to a small Alaska town to work and thus repay his medical school student loans. He falls into a love/hate relationship with a feisty female pilot. It was cute when it started, but once Morrow left, it went to hell in a handbasket faster than Speedy Gonzales on crystal meth.
Big Eden, on the other hand, is a two-hour film, and doesn�t have the time to get bad. It starts interesting, is filled with likable characters and good writing, blessed with more than adequate direction, and tells an engaging story.
The film is a tale of returning home and finding love that was there, but unnoticed. Henry Hart (Arye Gross) is a gay New York artist, standing on the brink of success with the opening of his first major show just days away. Then his grandfather (George Coe) has a stroke while replacing shingles on a neighbor�s roof and winds up in the hospital. Hart rushes back to Big Eden, his hometown, to look after the irascible old codger.
Hart is not exactly out in this tiny town in the land of the Unabomber, but it seems that pretty much every schoolmarm and cowboy knows what�s what and who�s who.
Of course, in the land of movies, caring for a semi-invalid grandfather recovering from a stroke is not nearly enough, so enter the romantic interests. Tim DeKay plays a former high-school flame who freaked out and got married, to Hart�s chagrin, and Eric Schweig plays Pike Dexter--who has the coolest and most memorable name in the film. Pike is the shy, hulking Native American owner of the town�s general store who apparently has had the hots for young Mr. Hart since high school.
It is the juxtaposition of these two relationships, between Henry and Dean (the high school sweetheart) and between Henry and Dexter, that gives the film its great poignancy. The audience sees these fledgling relationships blossom.
It�s been years since Henry and Dean have seen each other; Dean is now divorced, with two sons, and wants to start afresh with Henry. Audience-as-voyeur witnesses the rekindling of their friendship, and then romance, along with the terrible turbulence brought about by the emotional baggage remaining from their previous relationship.
The viewers also see the almost agoraphobic Dexter slowly emerge from his shell, and witness his near-painful attraction to Henry, who at first is clueless. He eventually catches on, but it might be too late, since between Dean and a possible return to New York, nothing in Henry�s life is certain.
Louise Fletcher, as schoolmarm Grace Cornwell, is the linchpin around which the rest of the film seems to revolve. It�s nice to see that an actress who first made her mark with an Oscar-winning performance 25 years ago still filling the screen in incredible roles with polish and panache. In One Flew Over the Cuckoo�s Nest, as Nurse Ratched, she was a pretty horrible person, a role she revisited in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
In Big Eden, however, we see a softer side of Fletcher, who seems almost Madonna-like (the religious figure, not the singer). Her ability to keep those around her safe and secure is almost mystical, as is her seeming omniscience.
Big Eden won the audience choice award at the Cleveland International Film Festival last spring, significant in itself for being one of a handful of gay films in a large festival. It deserved it, and now that its theatrical run is starting September 14, it deserves another look from those who saw it earlier. For those who didn�t have the chance to catch it, go see it. It is worth the wait.
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