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June 21, 2002

Wet, but wonderful

Umbrella-toting crowd greets first Cleveland mayor to appear at Pride

ClevelandHeavy rain and high wind did not cast a pall over the spirit of the city’s 14th annual Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender Pride parade and festival June 15.

Instead, celebrants made the inclement weather the butt of jokes, helping to return the event, themed “Think outside the triangle,” to the overtly political tone of early Cleveland Pride festivals.

“We try to be reflective of the mood of the general community,” said eight-time event coordinator Brynna Fish.

“There have been years when the event has been less political, but with a Republican president, a new mayor in Cleveland, the passage of the ‘Defense of Marriage Act” in the Ohio House, and a struggle to preserve domestic partner benefits in Cleveland Heights, that political energy is part of the community and part of Pride,” Fish added.

“I’m beaming even though it’s raining,” said Charles Wright of Akron, who was one of the 863 people who marched down Euclid Avenue along a lavender stripe painted by the city. Past, drier years have seen up to 1,300 march.

Cleveland Pride president Bob Krabbe pointed out that the 2002 celebration had a number of firsts, including the first time the mayor of the city participated, and the first time the rainbow flag was flown over City Hall.

Newly-elected Cleveland Mayor Jane Campbell delayed her departure for the National Mayors’ Conference to speak at Pride and march in the parade.

After being sprinkled with “fairy dust” by Dennis Stramel, riding in a ruby slipper and dressed as Glinda, the good witch from the Wizard of Oz, Campbell presented a proclamation and told those gathered, “What matters is creativity, energy, and knowledge, all of which are abundant today.”

“I am proud to see a rainbow flag over our city hall for the first time,” said Campbell, urging lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Clevelanders to become more united and more visible throughout the city. The rainbow flag flew all day under the U.S. flag atop the building.

“Once your faces are known,” added Campbell, “fears of you are lessened among people you work with and throughout the city.”

AIDS activist Louis Farmer chided those who may have stayed away due to the weather. “If this bald-headed, black queen living with AIDS can survive the rain, what about the rest of you?”

Farmer said that “stepping outside the triangle means looking inside ourselves, and recognizing our shortcomings as a community.”

Openly gay U.S. Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts. joked about the weather, saying he would always think of Cleveland with the phrase, “Come out of the closets and into the rain.”

“Why is it that when we talk about sex, it is ‘coming out,’ but when straight people talk about sex, it is ‘conversation’?” Frank challenged.

“You know,” said Frank, “we’re finding that the average American is not homophobic at all, they just think they are supposed to be.”

“And that makes our enemies nervous’” Frank continued. “Knowing that they can’t win any other way, they resort to the oldest political trick--they lie!”

The chairs of both the Democratic and Republican parties of Cuyahoga County addressed the pre-parade rally.

Democratic chair and Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora presented a proclamation on behalf of the commissioners and pledged to continue to work against discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation and sexual stereotypes.

Republican chair and State Rep. Jim Trakas called for Congress to pass laws ending workplace and housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and added, “I want you to know that the Republican Party has an open door for you.”

Nearly every other speaker, including Frank, Dimora, Campbell, and outgoing Lesbian Gay Community Service Center director Linda Malicki, derided the October 31 Ohio House passage of the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act. Trakas, who was the only member of the Ohio House on the stage, didn’t mention it.

Trakas, who is the House majority whip, voted for the DOMA. He said his attempt from the stage to recruit LGBT Republicans was “not disingenuous at all” given his vote.

“I have to represent my district,” said Trakas, “and 94 percent of my district is solidly behind the [DOMA] idea.”

Cleveland City Council member Joe Cimperman presented council’s proclamation. He also introduced other elected officials present, including council members Jay Westbrook, Matt Zone, and Merle Gordon, State Sen. Dan Brady and County Commissioner Peter Lawson Jones.

In passing its domestic partner benefits ordinance, “Cleveland Heights has set the example for Cleveland and Cuyahoga County,” added Cimperman.

Earlier, after it was noticed that the rainbow flag atop City Hall was upside down, Cimperman tracked down a custodian with access to the flagpole and saw to it that the flag flew properly, with the red stripe on top.

Chants of marchers took on a political tone, too.

Referring to the Promise Keepers national conclave set for Cleveland’s Gund Arena June 26-27, marchers with the Radical Queers and Pride at Work led the chant, “Racist, sexist, anti-gay. Promise Keepers go away!”

Promise Keepers’ founder Bill McCartney was a leading proponent of a 1994 Colorado constitutional amendment that forbade the state from passing any law giving equality to lesbians and gays. The U.S. Supreme Court struck it down in 1997’s Romer v. Evans decision.

But not all was political. Glinda was joined by Dorothy, the Lion, Tin Man and the Scarecrow, and floats and vehicles represented everything from churches to Cleveland’s leather community to the original Batmobile, driven by Ron Heitman.

A total of 50 units were in the parade, which, organizers noted, was another first.

The parade, back on its original Euclid and East 9th Street route, ended up at the Pride festival in Voinovich Park on Lake Erie. As the rain stopped and the sun came out, the crowd swelled to about 6,000.

The entertainment opened with the Windsong Womyn’s Ensemble performing the national anthem. They were followed by six Cleveland Heights High School juniors in the ska band Rude Staff Checkers, slam poetry with Kaoz, Mr. and Ms. Gay Black Ohio, comic Eddie Sarfaty, Randi Driscoll, singer Skott Freedman, Speechles, Rachel Sage and Band, comic Karen Williams, Trinity, and Kristine W.

“This was one of the best stages we ever produced,” said Fish, noting that there was something to satisfy everyone’s tastes.

Another “first” was the addition of the Youth Zone for people 13-20 years of age, which joined the Children’s Pavilion that debuted last year.

Youth Zone organizers Shannyn Vicente of the AIDS Task Force, Romeo Raly of Cleveland, and Derek Evans of Berea said more than 40 people took part in the programs sponsored by the AIDS Task Force, BlackOut Unlimited, and the Cleveland Lesbian and Gay Center.

Krabbe regrets that the Senior Space didn’t materialize as planned, but said it would become a top priority for 2003.

Krabbe summed it up by saying, “Nothing happens without the corporate sponsors and the more than 400 volunteers who work year round to put this together.”

Cleveland Pride will begin to organize the 15th annual event in a few weeks. It is scheduled for Saturday, June 21, 2003.


 

Dayton Pride continues with expo and picnic

by Anthony Glassman

Dayton--Complete with a mayoral proclamation, the Dayton Pride Partnership continued their celebration of Gay Pride Month with the annual expo and dinner on June 15, followed by a family picnic in Carillon Park the next afternoon.

“I was very pleased with it,” said Pride Partnership chairman John Gantt. “It went very well.”

The 17th annual dinner at the Dayton Convention Center was emceed by Rob Austin and Felicia Dalton with entertainment provided by Suzanne Westenhoeffer, Miss Bonni Blake and others. While 462 people came to the dinner, the big surprise of the evening for Gantt was the turnout to the expo.

“This year’s expo was a very nice one,” he noted. “We had more display tables than in previous years, and there were a lot of people throughout the whole thing.”

Although Mayor Rhine McLin was unable to attend the dinner herself, she sent a representative to the celebration in addition to releasing a mayoral proclamation declaring June as Pride Month in Dayton.

“Whereas, on Saturday, June 15, 2002, the Dayton Pride Partnership and the Dayton Lesbian and Gay Center are having its Annual Pride Dinner; and Whereas, this year’s Pride theme, “True Colors,” promoted the rainbow of Dayton’s diversity as shining through to the Red, White and Blue of the Azmerican Flag which is symbolic of the American goal of freedom and justice for all . . . Now, Therefore, I, Rhine McLin, Mayor of the City of Dayton, do hereby proclaim June, 2002 as Pride Month in Dayton,” the proclamation read.

“I think we’ve got a much easier task ahead of us with a mayor who’s sympathetic to our cause,” Gantt said, praising McLin’s openness to the LGBT community.

For Sunday’s Dayton Pride Family Picnic, “[the weather] couldn’t have been nicer,” according to Gantt.

Around 300 people celebrated in the sun at Carillon Park. There were food and games, along with music.

Gantt believes that the addition of a live band, the Equal Peace Band, engendered a larger number of people dancing. The lesbian band shared entertainment duties with DJ Scott Groves of Savvy Sounds and Celebrations, with the two acts alternating sets.

Dayton’s celebration of Pride Month will wrap up at the Stonewall Columbus Pride Holiday parade on June 29, with a float representing the Dayton Pride Partnership in the parade.

The Pride weekend events continued the successes enjoyed at the Dayton Pride Parade, the city’s first, on June 1. Following the parade, a Pride Kickoff Celebration on Courthouse Square featured performers and speakers including Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tim Hagan, the Equal Peace Band, lesbian former city commissioner Mary Wiseman, Ann Cregan of the New York Police Department’s Gay Officers’ Action League and gospel singer Jenni Hoge.

Next year’s Dayton Pride celebration will have the theme, “Flying High, Soaring to New Heights,” celebrating Dayton and the LGBT community’s part in aviation history for the Ohio bicentennial.

 


Benefits opponents sue to lower referendum standard

by Eric Resnick

Cleveland Heights--After failing to collect enough signatures to get a repeal of city worker partner benefits on the ballot, opponents have filed suit to lower the standards to put them to a vote.

Anti-gay activist attorney David R. Langdon of Cincinnati filed two actions in the Ohio Supreme Court June 14 on behalf of his client Tracie Moore of Cleveland Heights, who heads the opponents’ group Families First.

The suits argue that the number of signatures required was inflated by the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, and that the city should have allowed petitioners 15 more days to gather them.

Families First began gathering signatures to have the partner benefits ordinance put to a vote shortly after city council passed it on April 15.

According to the city’s charter, 15% of registered voters in the last municipal election, November 6, must sign petitions to send an ordinance back to council to be repealed or put on the ballot.

The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections certified to Cleveland Heights Law Director John Gibbon on May 13 that there were 35,699 registered voters then.

At that level, Families First would have needed to gather 5,355 signatures by May 15. But they were only able to gather 5,271. Of these, 649 were disqualified because Gibbon ruled they were collected before the ordinance was certified.

Had they presented enough signatures initially, Families First could have qualified for an additional 15 days of signature gathering to make up for any of the original ones disqualified for duplication or not being registered to vote.

Langdon says the charter also allows the additional 15 days to make up the initial shortfall. On his advice, the group collected signatures anyway until May 31, as though they had qualified to do so.

Those 1,448 new signatures were rejected by Council Clerk Thomas Malone on advice from Gibbon.

Families First claims that Malone failed to fulfill his duty of certifying the petitions and seeks a “writ of mandamus” to compel him to do so.

The Board of Elections is also being sued because Families First claims that on at least five occasions prior to the May 15 filing deadline, they were given five different numbers of registered voters, all substantially less than the certified figure used by Gibbon and Malone to disqualify their petitions.

Board spokesperson John Stilliana said the letter sent to Gibbon was the only certified figure, and that the others would have been unofficial and unauthorized.

The second action seeks to command the Board of Elections to provide Cleveland Heights with an accurate count, and require Malone to accept the new signatures based on that count, which Families First believes is lower.

Langdon said that the certified figure contains names of people who are dead, or who have moved away. He said there is a group of individuals, not all connected to Families First, going through the voter list purging names they think shouldn’t be there.

The number the group comes up with is less important than the fact that they documented problems with the list, Langdon said, which could be submitted to the court as evidence.

Board of Elections director Tom Jelepis had not yet been served with the complaint by press time and would only comment that Cuyahoga County calculates its lists of voters in accordance with the Ohio Revised Code.

Gibbon was out of town and hadn’t seen the complaints, either, but last week, prior to Langdon’s filing, he told the Gay People’s Chronicle that a writ of mandamus was “an extraordinary writ” that must be filed almost immediately.

“They’re seeking equitable relief, which has to be timely,” said Gibbon. “You can’t sit on your rights.”

Gibbon also said that common law provides deadlines to act, and that in his opinion, Families First exceeded them.

“I would intend to raise that as an issue,” said Gibbon.

Since the case will only be heard by the high court, there will be no appeal once the matter is concluded.

Assisting Langdon as counsel are Columbus attorney Donald C. Brey and American Family Association Center for Law and Policy staff attorneys Brian Fahling and Michael DePrimo, both of Tupelo, Mississippi.

Gibbon has 21 days to file a response to the complaints. At that time, the court will either dismiss the case or ask for additional briefing. Oral arguments are rare in writ of mandamus matters, so the ruling will likely be made from the briefs.

The court has no timeline, but usually rules on writs in one or two months. The losing side can file a motion to reconsider within ten days of the ruling.

Heights Families for Equality was organized to defeat any ballot measure to repeal the benefits.

“We expected this,” HFE spokesperson Keli Zehnder said. “We heard rumors that they were going to court. It is disappointing that they are forcing Cleveland Heights to spend money defending itself in court.”


Park kicks out TG woman for wearing a dress

Sandusky--Mother Rachael, a transgendered Clevelander born Harry Prather, was ejected from Cedar Point for dressing as a woman on June 16, less than two weeks after she filed suit against the amusement park for kicking her out during last year’s unofficial Gay Day celebration.

The suit was filed with the Erie County Court of Common Pleas the first week in June.

Rachel had gone to the amusement park near Sandusky for Gay Day, held on Father’s Day every year to take advantage of the lower number of visitors to the park. She was dressed, as is her norm, in women’s clothing.

“Two security officers approached her and told her to report to the security office,” said Rachel’s attorney, Larry Zukerman. “They interrogated her, and once they determined that she was a cross-dresser, the told her to leave.”

“They wouldn’t let her go back and tell her friends she was being expelled,” Zukerman continued.

She was refunded the cost of admission and driven out of the park in a marked security vehicle.

Cedar Point representatives argue that there is a “no costumes” policy in effect at the park and that Rachel violated that policy by wearing clothing they deem appropriate for the opposite sex.

“We need to be able to identify our guests should something happen, and we can’t allow one sex to be dressing up as another sex and entering restrooms where they’re not supposed to be,” park spokesperson Janice Witherow told the Toledo Blade.

“My client is appalled that, in this day and age, a person is not allowed to be himself or herself,” Zukerman stressed. According to the attorney, Rachel’s ensemble was not flamboyant, nor was his client’s behavior outrageous. Zukerman asserts that his client was thrown out simply for dressing in her standard mode, a dress, gloves, sunglasses and a purse.

In addition to roughly $400,000 in damages for psychological and emotional injury and trauma, Prather and Zukerman would like to see the park change their policies to reflect an openness towards transgendered people.

Zukerman has yet to hear from either the amusement park or the Erie County Court of Common Pleas. He did not know whether the park refunded his client’s admission cost this year. Whether or not the money was returned, however, is beside the point, according to Zukerman.

“He is a brave man who has decided to go forward and fight for his freedoms,” Zukerman said. “As Harry said, ‘It’s time that this stops. It’s time that we can be who we are.’ ”


Importuning’s last gasp

Police charge Toledo man, but he knew the law had been struck down

by Eric Resnick

Bryan, Ohio--A Toledo man may have been the last Ohioan charged with importuning, until he told police the law had been struck down.

Peter van Herwaarden, 63, was charged after he sent a sexual letter to a man he met on a telephone chat line.

Police in Bryan, 45 miles west of Toledo, confirmed that they had to drop the importuning charges May 30 after van Herwaarden informed them that the Ohio Supreme Court had voided the law on May 15.

The court found that the 1974 measure, which outlawed asking for gay or lesbian sex but not heterosexual sex, violated constitutional free speech and equal protection guarantees.

A complaint was filed against van Herwaarden by Mark Z. Perez, 20, of Bryan after Perez received the sexually explicit letter from van Herwaarden on May 28.

According to van Herwaarden, the two met on the phone dating line Mega Phone on May 20, when a man calling himself “Zack” answered his personal ad.

Van Herwaarden said the two had four to five telephone contacts between May 20 and 22 before he wrote the letter describing the sexual fantasies he wanted to act out with “Zack.”

Perez told police his middle name is Zacharius and his nickname used to be Zack. Perez claimed to police that he had no idea who van Herwaarden is, and could not understand how he got his address.

Van Herwaarden said “Zack” called him again after the letter had been received. Perez confirmed that to police, but said that his mother got the number from directory assistance and he called to see why the letter was sent.

Van Herwaarden said Zack was different during that call and told him that the letter had been intercepted by someone else in the home.

The Gay People’s Chronicle confirmed independently that the cell phone number given to van Herwaarden reaches Perez.

But Perez told Detective Jeff Arnold that he wanted to press charges against van Herwaarden.

Arnold contacted van Herwaarden the morning of May 30 and told him he was going to be charged with importuning.

Bryan city attorney Rhonda Fisher confirmed that Arnold had consulted with her on the charges prior to calling van Herwaarden.

Fisher would not say if she would have pursued importuning charges had van Herwaarden not told Arnold of the Supreme Court ruling.

Instead, she said, “I find what is contained in that letter the most disgusting thing I have ever seen,” and complained, “Now I’m the one who has to tell [Perez] that there is nothing I can do about this.”

After Fisher researched the issue, police declared the case closed. Van Herwaarden has agreed not to have any further contact with Perez.


50 arrests as Soulforce protests Baptist meeting

 

St. Louis--The head of the Southern Baptists condemned homosexuality from the podium June 11 as gay civil rights protesters shouting slogans marched through the convention hall and into the arms of police.

Twelve protesters were arrested inside the hall, and 38 more were taken into custody outside, where riot police stood near the main doorway.

The dozen protesters who infiltrated the annual meeting of the nation’s largest Protestant denomination were charged with ethnic intimidation and trespassing.

“Stop killing us! Stop the spiritual violence!” one man shouted as police dragged him behind the curtains at America’s Center. A woman from the group Soulforce, which claims Southern Baptist teachings lead to violence against gays, shouted: “God loves his gay children!”

The protesters tried to disrupt Southern Baptist president James Merritt’s keynote address to nearly 9,000 delegates and their families.

Merritt took aim at the media and Hollywood, citing surveys that show nearly unanimous acceptance in those groups of homosexuality. He said Southern Baptists have a “biblical responsibility” to preach against such things.

“We now face the fact that there are certain groups that are going to protest us every year,” he said. “They have let me know in their correspondence, ‘We are not going away.’ Well, I’ve got news for the pornographer, the adulterer, the homosexual, the pedophile, the abortionist: We are not going away either.”

Also Tuesday, George W. Bush greeted delegates via satellite from the White House.

“I want to thank you all for your good works,” he said. “You’re believers and you’re patriots, faithful followers of God and good citizens of America.”

--Associated Press


News Briefs

Compiled from wire reports by Brian DeWitt, Anthony Glassman and Patti Harris.

Bush turns down Pride proclamation

Washington, D.C.--For the second straight year, President George W. Bush has refused to issue a proclamation declaring June as Gay Pride Month.

Bush officially turned down an employee group’s request for a proclamation on June 11, continuing the break from the tradition established in the Clinton administration.

The various departments of the federal government, however, do not stand united on the subject.

In the Justice Department, for instance, Deputy Attorney General Larry D. Thompson was scheduled to speak June 19 at the Gay Pride celebration in the department’s Great Hall.

The Justice Department is headed by Attorney General John Ashcroft, who was outspokenly anti-gay while he was in Congress.

The Commerce Department, while allowing its employees to hold celebrations, is not officially sanctioning them.

Observers view the array of differing policies as an attempt by the Bush administration to walk a political tightrope, pleasing its conservative base without turning its back on the moderates who gave the final push to get Bush into office.

D.C. suburban partner law upheld

Rockville, Md.--A Montgomery County law extending benefits to domestic partners has been upheld by Maryland’s highest court.

The decision means that lesbian and gay employees of this Washington, D.C. suburban county, who legally cannot marry their partners, can claim them as health insurance beneficiaries.

Of the county’s 12,000 current and retired employees, there are 38 domestic partners participating.

Two other Maryland cities, Baltimore and Takoma Park, have enacted similar laws, but those measures have never been challenged in court.

The Montgomery law was challenged by the American Center for Law and Justice. The group was founded in 1997 by Christian Coalition leader Pat Robertson.

State marriage ban gets court nod

Boston--The state’s highest court on June 13 upheld the legality of a ballot initiative that would make same-sex marriages unconstitutional in Massachusetts.

Opponents had claimed the amendment, which would change the state Constitution to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman, illegally infringes on the powers of the state courts.

They had also argued that it touched on unrelated topics, in violation of the law governing ballot questions.

Proponents of the measure gathered enough signatures to force the legislature to consider it. The state House and Senate were scheduled to meet jointly June 18 to resume a constitutional convention at which they will vote on whether to place the question on the ballot.

Constitutional amendments must be supported by 25 percent of the members in two consecutive legislative sessions to be placed on the ballot. November 2004 is the earliest date voters could weigh in on the question.

The state popular initiative law bars ballot questions from infringing on the power of courts or including several unrelated topics. The Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the same-sex marriage question “does not strip the court of its basic power to affirm and annul marriages.”

Opponents fear the amendment would block attempts to expand legal rights to same-sex relationships and roll back benefits some gay couples and unmarried heterosexual couples now enjoy. The state does not recognize gay marriage.

Judge tosses dog mauling conviction

San Francisco--A judge threw out Marjorie Knoller’s murder conviction June 17 in the dog mauling death of a lesbian neighbor, but upheld involuntary manslaughter convictions against Knoller and her husband.

Superior Court Judge James Warren said that Knoller and Robert Noel are “the most despised couple in this city” but that the evidence did not support a second-degree murder conviction. He said Knoller had no way of knowing her dogs would kill someone when she left her apartment.

The decision stunned relatives and friends of the 33-year-old victim, college lacrosse coach Diane Whipple, who was torn to pieces by the couple’s two huge Presa Canario dogs in their apartment hallway last year.

Knoller, 46, could have faced 15 years to life in prison for murder. She and Noel, 60, still faced up to four years for the other charges — manslaughter and having a mischievous dog that killed someone.

Prosecutors said they would ask the judge to reconsider his ruling.

Knoller was walking the dogs just before they attacked Whipple, and testified that she tried to throw herself between the animals and her neighbor.

The judge threw out the murder conviction despite saying he did not believe Knoller’s testimony.

In court papers, Knoller’s attorneys had argued that her trial lawyer, Nedra Ruiz, did not competently represent her; that the judge improperly allowed prosecutors to associate her with a white supremacist prison gang; and that Knoller could not legally be convicted of both murder and involuntary manslaughter.

End to partner adoptions challenged

Ann Arbor, Mich--The American Civil Liberties Union has challenged a decision by the chief judge of Washtenaw County Circuit Court to take nine adoption petitions filed by unmarried partners away from another judge.

The action filed June 14 accuses Judge Archie Brown of lacking the authority to reassign the cases and the impartiality to decide them. Brown was scheduled to hear the ACLU’s request June 19.

Brown halted pending adoptions June 4 after deciding that they violated Michigan law. The adoptions were sought by unmarried couples in which one had children either biologically or by previous adoption.

When Brown issued the order, he said he believed the second-parent program would be legal only if the legislature clarified the law. Brown took the cases from Washtenaw County Circuit Judge Donald Shelton, who indicated he would continue to approve the applications.

Advocates for gays and lesbians said Brown’s decision denies them rights to be legal guardians to the children they raise. Gay couples cannot legally marry in Michigan and their marriages or civil unions in other states are not recognized in Michigan.

Attorneys, agencies and gay civil rights groups believe that the Washtenaw court was the only one in the state where unmarried couples were granted adoptions.

Petitioners tricked people into signing

Allentown, Pa.--The city will remove names from an anti-gay petition if the signer requests it, after allegations that petitioners tricked people into signing them.

Citizens may come in person or send in notarized letters requesting that their names be removed, the city said June 15.

The Allentown city council passed a lesbian-gay anti-discrimination ordinance on April 4, prompting a petition drive to force the council to either rescind the ordinance or put it to a referendum.

The petition drive needed 2,000 signatures of registered voters. Petitioners turned in 2,564 signatures, but accusations surfaced alleging that petition-gatherers had misrepresented the intent of the petitions. Some of those who signed the petitions reported that the gatherers claimed the petitions were to support gay rights.

The city solicitor’s office has 20 days from the time the petitions were turned in to verify the validity of the signatures, putting the due date on July 4. It is not known how the Independence Day holiday affects that timeline.

Lazin must refund $500,000

Philadelphia--Malcolm Lazin, the executive director of PrideFest America who was one of the only creditors repaid by the Millennium Festival, was ordered on May 28 to return $500,000 repaid to him by the festival.

The Millennium Festival was held in Washington, D.C. the weekend of April 30, 2000, at the same time as the gay Millennium March on Washington for Equality.

Millennium Productions, the festival’s for-profit organizers, borrowed $400,000 from Lazin in April 2000. They repaid him the loan plus a $100,000 loan fee the following month.

Two months later they filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. There are 17 other creditors awaiting payment.

Federal Bankruptcy Judge S. Martin Teel ordered Lazin to give back the money, ruling that Millennium was not in a position financially to repay Lazin’s loan. Teel also said that, by paying Lazin, Millennium gave him special treatment.

Teel ruled that Lazin was not responsible for attorney’s fees in the matter.

State contractor benefits law proposed

Sacramento--A proposed new law would extend the benefits afforded to LGBT partners of state employees to those working for companies who contract with the state.

The bill, introduced by State Assemblywoman Christine Kehoe, is modeled after San Francisco’s equal benefits ordinance. The legislation would require private contractors working for the state to offer employees domestic partners the same benefits they offer married spouses.

If passed, California would become the first state with such a law. Six other cities, besides San Francisco, have the ordinances.

“This bill is about equality in the workplace,” said Geoffrey Kors, interim executive director of the California Alliance for Pride and Equality. “Two employees doing the exact same job with the exact same qualifications should not be compensated differently simply because one is married while the other is in a domestic partnership.”

Pride marred by hate crime beating

Portland, Maine--Members of the gay community held a Pride parade and rally in downtown Portland on June 16 amid shock and anger over the beating of a gay man in daylight on one of the city’s busiest streets.

There was a heightened police presence during the rally and at other events associated with the ninth annual Southern Maine Pride weekend.

Attorney General Steven Rowe pledged that the men responsible for beating Jerry Boivin, who was assaulted the evening of June 13 while walking on Congress Street, would be brought to justice.

“We will find the individuals who perpetrated the crime. They will be prosecuted. We will bring an action under the Maine Civil Rights Act to the fullest extent of that law. You do have my word on that,” Rowe told the rally.

Boivin said two men who yelled anti-gay slurs from a pickup truck came after him. He said he was punched in the face and his head was knocked against the sidewalk. The attack left Boivin with raw purple welts obscuring both eyes. He said he got seven stitches over one eye and five over the other.


Creating the Third Gender nation

FTM counselor Patrick Califia to speak at ‘Matter of Pride’ conference

by Milla Rosenberg

Columbus—Patrick Califia is a fighter. As a sex-positive author, activist, and a licensed counselor, his writings, which include lesbian erotica, safe sex, AIDS and transsexuality, span two decades.

He survived the ravages of the “sex wars” fought within the lesbian community and the wider American culture, as each struggled over the meanings of pornography, increased censorship, and diverse sexual practices, including S/M and polyamory, throughout the 1980s.

Born Pat Califia, he first considered sex assignment in the early 1980s, but opted to wait, given the quality of female-to-male surgeries in that time. Now 47, he is a female-to-male transman and the proud father of a two-year-old boy.

Califia is giving the keynote address at the eighth annual Matter of Pride conference held in Columbus on June 21, followed by a reading and book-signing the next day at Chrysalis in Columbus.

Milla Rosenberg: When your first book Sapphistry was published in 1980, you were working on a psychology degree and knew then that you wanted to be a licensed counselor. How has your conception of the counselor’s role changed since that time?

Patrick Califia: Now that I have my license and have worked for an LGBT agency as well has developed a private practice, the biggest surprise . . . has been the difficulty in figuring out how to participate in the same communities where my clients come from, without violating their confidentiality, creating a dual relationship, or exposing too much of my own private life for my comfort.

A therapist who is not taking care of their own private life is not going to be able to give much to his or her clients. This is a dilemma that many sexual minority therapists face. We obtained professional training because we wanted our communities to have access to the same mental health services that other people can take for granted, and offer that care without the prejudice and pathologization that too often is visited upon LGBT people, intersexed people, sex workers, S/M people, people in polyamorous relationships, etc.

I’m lucky to already have a well-developed network so that I can continue to do the things I like to do without being such a visible person, and the longer I do this work, the more I am convinced that the only way to create a healing space is to make the client’s welfare an absolute priority. Everything I do, say, or hold back is evaluated by asking myself the question: How does this benefit the client?

MR: In relation to the above, how central is counseling for LGBT people? Where do you see its role fitting in within the greater community?

PC: Most people think being in therapy is pretty strange. When they have problems, it’s not the first thing that they think of to help themselves. It’s associated with being so badly impaired that you don’t have a choice.

What I tell my clients is that dealing with oppression is inherently stressful. I think everybody who has to cope with living in the midst of a hostile and ignorant majority needs extra support, and a place where they can be vulnerable and safe. When any of us “get better,” we have a positive effect on others in our lives. I love being a therapist. It’s an honor to be trusted with my clients’ hopes and fears. I just hope I can meet the challenge of continuing to learn enough to be a good resource for each person who comes into my office.

MR: In No Mercy (2000), you wrote, “I live in Women’s Country, but I don’t really like it there . . . Men’s Country seems like an ugly place full of dirty socks and fistfights. I wish there were some place else to live, a third nation.” Has the transgender community created a “third nation?” What work needs to be done toward this end? Also, has your view of this statement changed since then?

PC: Oppressed people have to be clever and creative about making space for themselves. For many decades, the “gay community” existed in a handful of books, a few dozen bars, and the living rooms of some impassioned people who were though to be quite crazy by their queer peers because they thought homosexuals were not mentally ill, and should not be treated as scum. The Third Gender nation has a presence in literature, books, street activism, and of course on the Internet. We build it wherever we can find a platform that can’t be torched by the people who hate us.

I think of us more as a collection of small tribes than a nation, and I see the important work as creating strong lines of communication with each other, and linking up our little projects into bigger ones that challenge the established order. I am in favor of bringing us together to talk to one another so we can develop a diverse agenda. There may never be any agreement about what it means to be transgendered, what our goals for social change should be, or what sort of world we all want to live in.

The greatest asset of transgendered people is our irreverence and creativity and style. We are simply so much more attractive than the alternative. If you can entertain people, you can also subvert them.

MR: What have been some of the surprises and pleasures throughout your transition?

PC: I was pleased and surprised to find a surgeon who would listen to me about how I wanted my chest to look, and do a procedure that left me with good nipple sensation instead of a tiny little pair of nubs that looked great but weren’t hooked up to my dick.

It is an absolute blessing and relief to have the strength and energy of testosterone in my body instead of the awful hot flashes and mood swings I was experiencing in perimenopause. I love not bleeding anymore. I am delighted to walk down the street and . . . have no one question my maleness. I feel so much more physical, sensual, and happy in my body. This is true despite all the chronic pain I have from the fibromyalgia [a musculoskeletal disorder causing pain and fatigue].

FTM transition has sharpened my sex drive, allowed me to drop a lot of ambivalence that slowed me down and made me dislike myself, and given me an opportunity to look at the experience of the other half of the human race. Since I spent the first half of my life changing what it meant to be a woman, I like the idea of spending the second half of it changing what it means to be a man.

MR: You have fibromyalgia, and you have written about dealing with pain. In the GLBT community, it seems that we do not talk much about disability, and I have been thinking about this and activism lately--what it means, and what is needed to ensure that doctors start listening to us. What do readers need to know about fibromyalgia? Also, what can the community do to better serve peoples with disabilities?

PC: The lesbian community is practically the only group of people on earth who have devoted a lot of time and consideration to the politics of disability. I really expected the gay men’s community to develop an equal level of theoretical sophistication and sensitivity when the AIDS epidemic began, but that hasn’t happened as much as I would like.

Medical school and residency is a punitive process that turns out cold people who are adversarial with their patients and distant, cold, and superior. The authoritarian model of the great doctor who has all this esoteric knowledge and will therefore “fix you” has got to go. As patients and consumers we need to be advocates for ourselves, and educate ourselves about our medical problems.

Since fibromyalgia is the diagnosis they give you when you keep complaining that you hurt, hurt, hurt and they can’t find a reason why, there’s not much I can tell anybody about it. It’s recognized as a genuine syndrome but there’s no known cause.

People who want to be sensitive to disabilities should just start by getting to know crippled people or sick people and asking them what they need or want. Also, we need able-bodied people to know that many disabilities are invisible.

MR: Your writings have consistently provided up-front, up-to-date, honest, deliciously sex-positive information and erotica for everyone in the community, no matter what their desires. What are some of the lessons that you have learned about desire from your writing and your fans’ response to it?

PC: In terms of my own sexual orientation, I’d say that about 80% of my partners have been women, but the men I’ve had sex with or loved are very important to me. Men have taught me about a simple way of being in the body, a direct way of expressing desire, and an acceptance of lust and humor about it. They gave my sexuality a light-hearted quality instead of this very heavy “analyze-everything-to-death,” process-junkie modality.

For the early part of my adult life it was important for me to identify as a lesbian feminist. That was the very best I could do in terms of understanding myself. But as I aged and my gender dysphoria got worse, that identity was no longer such a good fit. To be honest, I also got sick and tired of being told by lesbians that I didn’t belong and didn’t count as one of them. So I decided they were right and just started calling myself bisexual.

MR: Both San Francisco and Boston now have “free” or sliding-scale clinics where hormones for people in transition are available. Have you tracked some of the efforts of these clinics? If so, how do you feel about these clinics and their work?

PC: Well, in San Francisco I’m aware of Tom Waddell Clinic and Dimensions. It’s really important to have these low-income services available because many of us can’t figure out our career stuff until we are able to transition. And in mid-transition it is often impossible to find steady work or even stable housing. This is especially true for gender queer youth. These services rely on a lot of volunteer energy, and I just wish they had more funding from city mental health budgets

There’s some controversy about these clinics departing from the Harry Benjamin standards of care. I like the idea that transsexual people deserve a high level of care from their doctors and therapists. But I don’t think every single person who goes through transition needs ongoing therapy. Often it’s the decision to transition that fixes the anxiety or depression that was blocking that person.

The Harry Benjamin standards assume that the “patient” has middle-class resources. While I’m grateful to the handful of physicians who are willing to treat us, I am also well aware that a lot of them have gotten quite wealthy by making us pay out of pocket for their services, and I resent that.

If transgendered activism accomplished nothing but getting insurance companies to pay for the very well-documented services that are necessary for a medically-assisted gender transition, well, we’d have done a whole lot to increase human happiness.

MR: You are scheduled to speak at the “Matter of Pride” conference about improving mental health and social services for transgender people. What information do service providers and the LGBT community need to understand about trans-people that can strengthen the quality of care that we receive?

PC: I am really angry about agencies who assume they are “inclusive” because they’ve tacked a T onto their mission statement. That is not enough. In fact, it’s worse than that, an agency that claims to serve transgendered people but doesn’t really do that becomes an obstacle to establishing services that really work.

If a transgendered person walks into your agency and does not see anybody there who looks like them, they will leave. And they should, because gender-normative people do not understand what this feels like. If you want to serve our community, hire us. Hire people who are members of that community.

The “Matter of Pride” conference is June 21 at the Franklin County Veteran’s Memorial, 300 W. Broad St. Patrick Califia will also be at Chrysalis, 747 Chambers Rd., at 7 pm.

 

 

 

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