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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
April 11, 2003

Minister�s trial begins for defying gay ban

Rev. Stephen Van Kuiken hopes his trial will reveal the �crisis in the church�

by Doreen Cudnik

Cincinnati--Dozens of people lined the street in front of Immanuel Presbyterian Church to support a minister accused of defying his denomination�s ban on marriage and ordination of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Holding banners that said �Stop Spiritual Violence and �We Are All Equal in the Eyes of God,� members of Soulforce, a pro-gay interfaith organization, met in Cincinnati April 7 and 8 to �shine some light in the darkness� at the trial of Reverend Stephen Van Kuiken of Mt. Auburn Presbyterian Church.

Van Kuiken is accused of violating the constitution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) by performing marriage ceremonies for same-gender couples and ordaining GLBT deacons and elders. The same charges were filed against 19 other Presbyterian ministers, including Mount Auburn pastor emeritus Rev. Harold G. Porter, but Van Kuiken�s case is the first such case to go to trial.

�This is a big one,� said Soulforce publicity coordinator Laura Montgomery Rutt. �This is the first trial of its kind in the Presbyterian church, and Soulforce is here to stand in solidarity with Rev. Van Kuiken and the courageous people of Mount Auburn Presbyterian Church. We know we are equal in the eyes of God even if the Presbyterian Church USA hasn�t figured it out yet.�

After charges were filed against Van Kuiken, the investigating committee offered him an �alternative resolution� provided he admit that what he did was wrong and promise not to do it again. Van Kuiken rejected the offer, saying that he believes his actions are the right thing to do and that he will continue to ordain and marry GLBT people.

Nearly 100 people attended an event at Mt. Auburn on April 7 to be trained in the Soulforce principles of non-violent resistance and prepare themselves for the following day�s vigil and trial.

Rev. Mel White, founder of Soulforce, led the Monday evening training.

�This issue is not about Stephen or gay marriage or ordinations,� White said. �This issue is about fundamentalists taking over the Presbyterian Church and using tomorrow�s trial to �straighten up� the congregations. Tomorrow, we�re trying to take back the church and give it back to Steve and his congregation where it belongs.�

Van Kuiken was in good spirits on the eve of his trial, thanking Soulforce for their �nourishment and support� over the past year. He held up a humorous sign made by members of his congregation in anticipation of his trial. The sign�s message, will preach for food, was a testament to his congregation�s �sense of humor and support through this whole ordeal,� Van Kuiken said.

While admitting that the whole experience of being put on trial by his denomination has been �pretty intense,� Van Kuiken seized upon the opportunity to shed light on what he says are very critical issues facing the denomination.

�There is a crisis in the Presbyterian church, and that crisis has to do with real people, it�s not just a theoretical issue,� he said. �It is a crisis when people are being pushed out of the church, people are forced to live in fear and threat and intimidation and it�s tremendously painful. The kind of violence that the church is inflicting upon its GLBT and progressive members is just intolerable.�

The second crisis the church is facing is a theological one, Van Kuiken added.

�There is a new fundamentalism that is happening in the Presbyterian church. There is a growing intolerance, a lack of respect for different progressive views of the Bible,� he said. �There is one narrow, literal perspective on certain verses of the Bible that are being forced on everyone in the church, so even progressive straight folks like me are forced into the closet. We have to keep our mouths shut and not act upon what we believe in our hearts for fear of retribution or prosecution.�

His trial provides an opportunity for those people that Van Kuiken refers to as the �silent middle� to �assert themselves� and �foster the kind of acceptance and compassion and dedication to justice that Jesus stood for.�

Soulforce members gathered with a delegation from the Mount Auburn and several other supportive churches for a 4 pm press conference on Tuesday.

Speakers included Van Kuiken, Rev. Jimmy Creech, a former United Methodist minister who was defrocked for performing a holy union ceremony for two men, Rev. Sharon Dittmar of the First Unitarian Church in Cincinnati, and Rabbi David M. Horowitz of Akron.

Dittmar said that, despite attempts by some to portray Van Kuiken as a �renegade Presbyterian,� he is �not the only Presbyterian, nor is he the only clergyperson to support the marriage of gays and lesbians and the full inclusion of GLBT members in religious community.�

�I want to thank Reverend Van Kuiken for reminding us that God�s love is bigger than our own,� Dittmar said.

Access to the trial in front of the Cincinnati Presbytery�s seven-member Permanent Judicial Commission was open only to presbytery members and Van Kuiken�s wife. He filed a formal objection to this.

�I have raised this objection because by closing this trial, it means my members will not be able to attend, my friends will not be able to attend, the press will not be able to attend, and by extension, Presbyterians at large will not be able to have full access to the proceedings today,� Van Kuiken said.

Outside the trial, openly gay Cincinnati attorney and Mount Auburn member Jack Harrison read Van Kuiken�s official response to the charges at the same time that Van Kuiken was reading the statement to the commission inside.

If found guilty, possible punishments range from a simple rebuke to removal from the ministry. Van Kuiken cautioned the commission that a rebuke would not bring resolution to this issue.

�I am convinced that [a rebuke] will only bring more accusations and more charges against me,� Van Kuiken said. �This will happen because I will continue to participate in the ordinations of �non-repentant practicing homosexuals,� and I will continue to officiate and participate in services of Christian marriage for same-sex couples.�

A decision in Van Kuiken�s case is expected in a week to ten days. Once a decision is reached, formal notice is required and subsequent meetings will be open to the public.


Bathhouse reopens to continued opposition

by Eric Resnick

Columbus--A gay bathhouse closed by city officials for building code violations has reopened amid continued community protest.

Flex Columbus opened under a temporary occupancy certificate March 31. The facility was closed by the city March 3 for alleged violations after it opened February 28.

Flex manager John Logston and attorney Eric Rotondo say the city was trying to hold them to a higher building compliance standard than other businesses due to protests by neighbors and an influential neighborhood commission.

The Driving Park Area Commission and the Driving Park Civic Association oppose a bathhouse at that location because gay men have sex in the private rooms, which rent like hotel rooms.

Protesters have appeared in front of the building on several occasions. Police were called to the scene April 1 when one shouted slurs and threw rocks at the manager and security officers as members of High Street Baptist Church demonstrated against it.

The building, which is in a distressed section of Livingston Avenue in southeast Columbus, was the site of the Club Columbus bathhouse from 1974 to 1996.

James Johnson, who chairs the Driving Park commission and is a leader of the opposition to Flex, said the earlier bathhouse wasn�t opposed because it was �so low-key that nobody knew it was there.�

Johnson also sits on the board of the Livingston Avenue Collaborative for Community Development, a federally-funded agency that serves Driving Park and other southern Columbus neighborhoods.

Three other collaborative board members resigned in March to protest Johnson and other members� attempts to keep the gay business out of the Driving Park neighborhood.

The former board members agreed to speak to the Gay People�s Chronicle only under anonymity. All fear their business and leadership positions in the community could be in jeopardy if they speak openly.

One said Johnson had private conversations with members opposing �any business attached to gays.�

Another said, �I grew up in that neighborhood, and there was always a bathhouse in that location.�

�That neighborhood has a lot of older African-American residents who are homophobic,� said the resignee, �and this is what happens when you bring people with that agenda to the table. And because I am African-American, I don�t agree with people making comments about anybody, or with the gay-bashing going on.�

Johnson said he was unaware of the resignations, and repeated his position that �the community has the right to take a position on any business in the city.�

Johnson said his position is outlined in a March 17 letter written on behalf of the commission.

Johnson could not produce a copy of the letter and attempted to refer all questions to Stonewall Columbus director Kate Anderson. He said he is concerned with legal, health, behavior, and safety issues.

Johnson declined to elaborate other than to say a neighbor found a condom in the bathhouse parking lot �years ago.� Johnson wasn�t sure if it was found while the former bathhouse was there or after it had closed.

Anderson said she had not seen Johnson�s letter, but that Stonewall has partnered with the Community Relations Committee to attempt to mediate disputes between the bathhouse and the commission.

�Johnson wants us to support their position,� said Anderson, �but we won�t do that, as we don�t take positions on any business operating legally.�

Anderson said there have been no developments in the process yet, and added that in order for it to work, all participants have to agree not to go public until there is resolution.

�This situation could get volatile,� said Anderson, �and we need to make sure there are no violent outcomes.�

Driving Park neighborhood resident Thomas Bennett supports having Flex as a neighbor.

�I walk past drug houses and prostitutes every day taking my seven-year-old daughter to school, and no one is out protesting that,� said Bennett.

Bennett, who is African-American, said he lived in San Francisco for 14 years, so he doesn�t share the views on gays expressed by some in leadership positions.

�If this wasn�t a gay facility, there would be no beef,� said Bennett.

Bennett said the Driving Park Commission doesn�t speak for him, nor most of the neighborhood�s residents.

�Nobody came to me for my opinion,� said Bennett, �and I don�t think that 99 percent of people in a ten-block radius give a damn about Flex in one way or another.�

�Most people around here are just concerned with going to work, paying bills, and raising their kids,� added Bennett.

Logston has collected more than 300 petition signatures from area residents in support of the bathhouse.

A Christian men�s activist group called Minutemen United has scheduled a �Rally for Righteousness� against the bathhouse and �the forces of evil that are so boldly displaying their sin� at the facility on Saturday, April 12.

Johnson said that in order for Flex to co-exist with the commission, �they need another type of business, not one with sex.�

 


Erie County civil rights ordinance may be rendered useless

Executive wants to dissolve its enforcement agency

by Anthony Glassman

Erie, Pa.--The county executive who opposed a gay and transgender-inclusive anti-discrimination ordinance when it passed last year now has a proposal that would essentially void the measure.

Erie County Executive Rick Schenker, who in 1994 as the president of the Pennsylvania Christian Coalition called homosexuality a �demented and depraved lifestyle,� wants to disband the county�s Human Relations Commission, the body that enforces the ordinance.

�The ordinance becomes, as I understand it, a nonissue if the state and feds take it over,� Schenker told the Erie Times News for an April 7 issue.

There are no protections for lesbians, gays or transgender people in Pennsylvania or federal law.

Schenker is attempting to bypass the ordinance by removing the commission from the county�s budget, dissolving the commission and leaving the measure unenforceable.

Michael Kenton Mahler, an LGBT activist and publisher of Erie Gay News who crusaded for the law, believes that the loss of the commission and, by extension, the measure, would cause great harm to Erie County. He pointed to studies indicating that municipalities with civil rights protections for LGBT people have an easier time attracting and keeping businesses, especially technological firms.

However, said Mahler, the fight is not yet lost. He believes that urging the county executive and commissioners to keep the commission might be an effective way to keep the measure intact.

�It�s possible that, if Schenker chooses to remove the Human Rights Commission from the budget, that County Council could keep it in,� he said. �Therefore, we need to contact both offices.�

Schenker had vowed to veto the ordinance when it passed in February 2002 with both sexual orientation and gender identity included. But the county commissioners voted 6-1 to pass it, with only five votes needed to override a veto. Schenker opted to sign it instead of having his veto bypassed.

Three amendments were added to the bill to get the 6-1 majority. One of the changes excluded crimes like pedophilia from the definition of sexual orientation, while another states that employers are not required to provide domestic partner benefits for non-married LGBT employees. The third clarified the status of the Human Rights Commission.

 


Ted Wammes is first gay man named to relations board

by Anthony Glassman

Cleveland--
Mayor Jane Campbell on April 1 appointed the first openly gay man to the city�s Community Relations Board.

�It is important to me that the people who serve on our boards and committees reflect Cleveland�s diversity,� Campbell said in a statement.

Ted Wammes, acting chief supervisor for the Ohio Civil Rights Commission�s Cleveland regional office, was one of 14 members appointed to various boards in the city administration by Campbell, and one of four appointed to the Community Relations board. Fellow appointee Yasir Hamdallah also broke new ground, becoming the first Arab-American on the board.

The Community Relations Board is the city�s human relations department. It promotes harmony among racial, religious and cultural groups in the city, investigates complaints and mediates disputes. The board also provides multicultural training for private and public groups.

In addition to his work with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, Wammes is also the leadership committee chairman for the Ohio AIDS Coalition where he is also a board member. He is a member of the Northeast Ohio Fair Housing Alliance and of the Northern Ohio Hate Crime Working Group, a cooperative outreach effort of the U.S. Attorney�s office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation that engages community groups in organizing hate crime prevention initiatives.

For Campbell, the first mayor to fly a rainbow flag over city hall for Cleveland Pride, the appointments, especially those of Wammes and Hamdallah, are the best way to represent and serve the diversity of the city.

�It is vital that we have diversity on our boards, so that we may make Cleveland a stronger, safer and smarter city in which to live, raise a family and grow old,� she said.

Councilmember Matt Zone, representing the West Side�s Ward 17, pushed for Wammes.

�As a member of the Community Relations Board, I was proud to advocate for Ted�s appointment, not only because the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community has been historically underrepresented in city government, but also because Ted�s background makes him eminently qualified to fulfill his responsibilities,� Zone said.

According to Patrick Shepherd, president of the LGBT Cleveland Stonewall Democrats, Wammes� appointment is a good start, but far from the final goal.

�Unfortunately, the participation of Greater Cleveland�s LGBT community with boards and commissions is minimal across Northeast Ohio,� he noted. �Since visibility is the common denominator for success in our quest for equal rights, the Cleveland Stonewall Democrats launched an initiative in December to educate our membership about the importance of increased visibility and participation on these institutions which make decisions that affect our lives every day.�

�I am extremely honored that Mayor Jane Campbell has appointed me to the Cleveland Community Relations Board and as the first openly gay person to be appointed to the board in its 58 years of existence,� Wammes said. �My ten years of experience at the Ohio Civil Rights Commission will bring a great understanding for the issues that the CRB addresses.�

�My appointment to CRB as the first openly gay person and the appointment of Yasir Hamdallah as the first Arab-American demonstrates that the mayor is committed to ensuring that diverse communities are represented on city boards to make Cleveland a stronger and more viable place to live,� he continued. �I hope to engage members of the LGBT communities to participate in the discussions about CRB�s efforts to eliminate discrimination, combat hate crimes and promote better relations among the diverse communities that make Cleveland such a great city.�

�I look forward to representing the LGBT communities and being a direct connection between these communities, the mayor and the CRB,� Wammes concluded.

Martha Pontoni, publisher of the Gay People�s Chronicle, was the first openly gay or lesbian person appointed to any Cleveland board or commission when she was named to the Police Review Board on October 23, 1992.


ACLU sues school that made gay boy read Bible aloud

Little Rock, Ark.--The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of a 14-year-old student at Jacksonville Junior High School who says he was treated unfairly because he is gay.

The group wants a judge to order the Pulaski County Special School District to ensure Thomas McLaughlin�s First Amendment right to free speech is protected.

The lawsuit alleges the boy was chastised for speaking outside of class about his sexual orientation and that he was forced to read anti-gay Bible verses aloud as punishment.

The court action says the school district should clear the boy�s disciplinary record.

ACLU chapter director Rita Sklar says the group and the school district tried to settle the matter out of court. But she says the sides reached an impasse April 7, and the group filed suit the following day.

�We tried to work with the district to reach a settlement that would protect Thomas McLaughlin�s constitutional rights and allow him to be open about his sexual orientation,� said James Esseks, litigation director for the ACLU�s Lesbian and Gay Rights Project. �The were offered ample opportunity to do the right thing here, but the district refused to meet our demands so we�re taking them to court to ensure that other lesbian and gay students in the district wouldn�t face similar discrimination.�

Staff at the school had called McLaughlin�s mother and told her that her son was gay. One of his teachers made him read passages from the Bible dealing with homosexuality. This is the only point on which the district acknowledged wrongdoing, admitting that it was improper for a public school teacher to use the Bible.

The ACLU had complained that the district disciplined the boy in an effort to silence him. The school district said last month that he was disciplined because he violated school rules that prohibit a student from engaging in conduct disruptive to the learning process.

�Our demands are fairly simple,� said Lesbian and Gay Rights Project staff attorney Leslie Cooper The district needs to acknowledge students� First Amendment right to talk about their sexual orientation during non-instructional time.�

�We want the district to expunge Thomas� disciplinary record, and we want them to say in their district policies that they won�t violate the constitutional rights of lesbian and gay students.�

--Associated Press


News Briefs

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

Utah Supreme Court says lesbian teacher can keep her job

Salt Lake City--The Utah Supreme Court said April 4 it would not decide if a lesbian Spanish Fork High School teacher is morally fit to teach. Instead, that decision should be left to local and state education officials.

The ruling was a victory for teacher Wendy Weaver, who is the focus of a six-year campaign by a group of parents to have her fired.

Teachers are required by law to be moral models for their students. The lawsuit alleged that Weaver couldn�t be a good role model because her �lifestyle� conflicted with state sodomy laws.

Parents and students tried to remove Weaver from her teaching position by complaining to the local school board, but the Nebo School District did not fire Weaver, an award-winning, 20-year psychology teacher. They pursued the case in the state�s 4th District Court, but Judge Ray Harding Jr. dismissed the lawsuit in 1999.

Those seeking to oust Weaver then sought a declaration from the state Supreme Court saying she was unfit to teach. However, the court declined.

Couple drops divorce request

Beaumont, Texas--A gay man withdrew his request for a divorce from his Vermont-issued civil union, and a state judge approved the move on March 31.

Russell Smith and his former partner John Anthony entered into a civil union in Vermont in February, 2002. The two separated, and Smith filed for a divorce to dissolve the civil union, claiming that it needed to be done for financial reason.

When Judge Tom Mulvaney granted the divorce, it was the first time a Vermont union had been recognized in another state. But he reversed his ruling after the state attorney general office said that Texas did not recognize the union and thus could not dissolve it.

Smith�s attorneys argued that the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the U.S. Constitution applied to the civil union as it does to marriage. The clause requires states to recognize marriages and administrative actions from other states, like driver�s licenses.

Anthony did not object to the withdrawal of the divorce petition. He is planning no further action in the case.

Man pleads guilty to Pride beating

Tampa--Sentencing is set for April 21 for a Clearwater man who pleaded guilty to beating up three men leaving a gay Pride celebration last year.

Davin Scott Angus faces up to 30 years in prison. He is pleading guilty to three counts of aggravated battery and four counts of hate crime battery.

The assault happened last July 7, on the last day of PrideFest, the Tampa and St. Petersburg LGBT pride celebration.

The three victims say Angus yelled an anti-gay slur and screamed obscenities before punching and kicking them.

Authorities have not yet identified another man who participated in the attack.

Teens tape subway taunting

New York City--Two teenagers on a subway train harassed another passenger who they believed was gay, and one of the teens videotaped the incident, police said.

Daniel Jamile and Nkrumah Ajomajberin, both 17, were arrested April 5 on charges of menacing, resisting arrest and obstructing government administration, said Detective Cheryl Crispin, a police spokeswoman.

The teens confronted a 24-year-old New Jersey man just before midnight on a subway train in Manhattan, police said. They yelled anti-gay threats, then one taunted the man with a lighter, saying �You faggots gotta burn,� while the other held the camera, police said.

Officers arrested Jamile and Ajomajberin at the Times Square subway station and seized the camera. Detectives were reviewing the videotape.

Judge to be tried for home incident

Santa Maria, Calif.--A lesbian Santa Barbara County judge was ordered on April 1 to stand trial on charges of battery, brandishing a gun and drunken driving, charges that could end her career on the bench.

Diana R. Hall, 52, was arrested Dec. 21 for alleged DUI after a 911 call to Santa Barbara sheriff�s deputies from her partner, Deidra Dykeman, who told officers Hall had pulled her hair and threatened to shoot one of their two dogs.

The judge was stopped by sheriff�s deputies. A blood alcohol test determined the judge had a 0.18 blood-alcohol level, more than twice the 0.08 legal limit.

The two felony charges against Hall are using a gun to dissuade a witness and destroying a telephone to block a crime victim from calling police. The battery, brandishing a gun, and drunken driving charges are misdemeanors.

Deputy chief accused of molestation

Los Angeles--Deputy Police Chief David Kalish, a one-time candidate to lead the police department, has been relieved of duty following accusations he sexually molested a youth in the 1970s.

Kalish, 49, was placed on paid leave pending a decision by prosecutors on whether to file charges. Police Chief William Bratton also relieved Kalish of his police powers.

A man claims that Kalish, then a police officer, �harassed, sexually molested and assaulted him� while he was in the Police Explorers youth program, according to a civil complaint filed in October.

The alleged victim is seeking $25,000 from the city. Kalish was in his early twenties at the time of the alleged molestation, but it is unknown how old his accuser was since Explorers can be over 18 years old.

Kalish, who is openly gay, has been praised by politicians and police officials as a coalition builder who managed to build a rapport between various groups and the LAPD.

California�s statute of limitations in sexual abuse cases was lifted during the mid-1990s, allowing prosecutors to charge potential suspects in decades-old cases.

New Yorker to head NGLTF

New York City--The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force announced on April 4 that it hired Matt Foreman, executive director of New York�s Empire State Pride Agenda, to replace outgoing executive director Lorri L. Jean.

Jean�s contract expires in May. She and deputy executive director Darrel Cummings are returning to similar posts with the Los Angles Gay and Lesbian Center.

Foreman, 48, a 1982 graduate of New York University School of Law, spent the last four years at the helm of ESPA. During his tenure, the New York legislature passed a gay-inclusive civil rights law, extended hate crime protections, repealed the sodomy law, and extended partner benefits to same-sex partners of those killed in the September 11 attacks, all items on which ESPA lobbied.

Foreman�s group also raised $378,000 specifically for LGBT survivors of victims of the attacks.

Foreman will be replaced at ESPA by Alan Van Capelle, a 28-year old organizer with the Service Employees International Union. Van Capelle spent nine of the last ten years with SEIU in a variety of positions.

Civil union repeal introduced

Montpelier, Vt.--A bill to repeal Vermont�s civil unions law has been introduced, as has a constitutional amendment that would leave civil unions intact but restrict marriage to opposite-sex couples.

Vermont law already specifies bans same-sex marriage. The civil unions law was passed in 2000 after the state�s supreme court ruled that denying the benefits of marriage to same-sex couples was unconstitutional discrimination.

The �Marriage Restoration Act� was introduced on February 25 and sent to the House Judiciary Committee which has taken no action. It was sponsored by outspoken civil union opponent Rep. Nancy Sheltra and 15 other House Republicans.

The constitutional amendment was introduced into the senate by Sen. Julius Canns and two of his fellow Republicans. Canns filed it on February 20, and it has sat in the Senate Judiciary Committee since then.

Lawmakers do not expect either measure to pass, and acknowledge that both are largely symbolic.


 

Around the world in three days

A nonet of noteworthy films to be seen at the Wexner Center GLBT Film Festival

by Kaizaad Kotwal

Columbus--The Film and Video department of the Wexner Center for the Arts is showcasing nine films of particular interest in the sixth annual GLBT Film Festival

These films are not only varied in style and subject matter, but also transverse varied geographies, politics and social viewpoints.

The festival is presented in association with Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered Student Services at Ohio State University.

Each year the curators and organizers manage to find an array of films, from documentaries and experimental films to comedies and dramas. This year is no exception and the nine films they assembled are a tribute to the depth and diversity of GLBT films.

Thursday, April 24

Georgie Girl at 7 p.m.
Family Fundamentals at 8:30 p.m.

Georgie Girl, by Annie Goldson and Peter Wells is a profile of Georgina Beyer, a former sex worker of Maori descent who in 1999 became the world�s first transgendered politician elected to national office. The film chronicles Beyer�s transition from farm boy to cabaret diva to member of New Zealand�s parliament chosen by a mostly white and conservative constituency, a feat unimaginable even in the most liberal areas of the United States.

Family Fundamentals by Arthur Dong, an Oscar-nominated filmmaker, continues the director�s quest to understand American prejudices in an intimate look at three conservative Christian families with gay and lesbian children. The film examines what happens when fundamentalist parents regard their own kids as a threat, not only to their particular family unit, but also to the human race at large.

Among those profiled in this powerful film are a Pentecostal minister, the gay son of a Mormon bishop, and the gay former aide to conservative California Congressman Bob Dornan. Arthur Dong�s earlier documentary, Coming Out under Fire, took on the issues of homosexuality and the armed services. Together, these two documentaries provide a unique look at the nexus of sexuality, society and politics.

Friday, April 25

Julie Johnson at 7 p.m.
Rebel Without a Pause at 9 p.m.

Julie Johnson by Bob Gosse was the closing night selection at London�s Lesbian and Gay Film Festival last year. An independent feature-length film, Julie Johnson stars the volatile Courtney Love and the talented Lili Taylor as Claire and Julie, mismatched best friends in the suburban wilderness of New Jersey.

Taylor (I Shot Andy Warhol) is a science-mad housewife with a crush on steak-house waitress Courtney Love. When both enroll in a computer class, they unleash a liberating chain of discoveries, becoming lovers with a lot to lose. Renowned performance artist Spalding Gray appears in the film, which features songs by Liz Phair.

Reno: Rebel without a Pause by Nancy Savoca features New York performer Reno. The film is a record of how she became one of the first artists to take on the challenge of dealing with September 11 before an audience.

Reno lives eight blocks from the World Trade Center, and her account of what she witnessed proves to be highly emotional, cathartic, and typically hilarious while providing an opinionated, radical feminist alternative to mainstream views.

Saturday, April 26

Hand on the Pulse and
Hope Along the Wind at 1 p.m.
His Secret Life at 3:30 p.m.
Proteus at 7 p.m.
Gypsy 83 at 9:30 p.m.

Hand on the Pulse and Hope Along the Wind: The Life of Harry Hay form a double feature of documentary portraits of gay civil rights pioneers. In Hand on the Pulse, filmmaker Joyce Warshow uses interviews, photos, and archival footage to tell the poignant story of Joan Nestle, political and sexual �bad girl� and cofounder of the Lesbian Herstory Archives, a valuable repository of lesbian history and culture.

Eric Slade�s Hope Along the Wind chronicles the fascinating story of radical activist Harry Hay, who in 1950 founded the Mattachine Society, one of the first organized gay rights movements in America. Hay died at age 90 last October, disillusioned by the failure of subsequent American activists to adhere to his socialist convictions.

His Secret Life by Ferzan Ospetek, the director of Steam, is an engaging story of love and rebirth in urban Italy. After Antonia�s beloved husband is accidentally killed, she�s shocked to discover that he had been secretly involved with a man. As she nurses an AIDS patient, she repeatedly encounters her husband�s long-term boyfriend, forcing the pair into an unlikely relationship as they cope with their common loss.

Proteus by John Greyson and Jack Lewis is set among South Africa�s Cape Town penal colony in the 18th century. It tells of a decade-long affair between a Dutch sailor, imprisoned there for sodomy, and a young native herder. Their love for each other is eventually tested when events outside the prison again place them on trial. Greyson (Lillies, Zero Patience) visits to introduce and discuss his work-in-progress, an astonishing true story.

Gypsy 83 by Todd Stephens is the second installment in his �Ohio Trilogy� begun with Edge of Seventeen, a 1999 cult favorite.

The film follows two small-town Goth misfits�Gypsy, an overweight wannabe singer, and Clive, a skinny teen who favors black lipstick�as they head for New York in their �79 Trans Am. Their goal: attending the annual �Night of 1,000 Stevies,� where Gypsy plans to unveil her endlessly rehearsed Stevie Nicks impersonation. Starring Sara Rue (from TV�s Less than Perfect) and Kert Turton, the film features Karen Black and John Doe.

Except for the double feature of Hand on the Pulse and Hope Along the Wind, a separate ticket is required for each film. Some films contain adult material. All these films will be presented in the Film/Video theatre at the Wexner Center. Ticket prices are $5 for the general public, $4 for Wexner Center members and students. Ticket Packets for any five films are $15. For more information call the box office at 614-2923535.

 

 

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