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August 1, 2003

Dancin weekend draws 3,000 revelers

Cleveland--Around 3,000 people turned out for the weekend of events surrounding the 19th annual Dancin� in the Streets July 24
to 27, the year�s largest fundraiser for the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland.

Three years ago, Dancin� in the Streets, an outdoor dance party benefiting the AIDS Taskforce, merged with Erie Party, an indoor event now six years old, forming a weekend of dance music events to raise funds.

The weekend began at the Hard Rock Caf� on Thursday, July 24, with DJ Jon Garrison playing the opening party. The following evening, the revelry moved to the Grid for a party featuring DJ Kimberly S.

On Saturday, July 26, Erie Party brought DJs Bob Ganem and Joe Gauthreaux to the Odeon Concert Club, the first time the event has been in that venue. Club Cleveland held the Pump Party the same day, starting eight hours earlier but running concurrently.

The weekend wrapped up with Dancin�, now in its third year at the Tower City Amphitheater, featuring the music of DJs Rob Engel and David Knapp, along with live performances by a diverse array of talents, including Melissa Ross, the Rainbow Wranglers, Connor O�Brien and a fashion show featuring the Organ Grinders Ball models.

Following Dancin�, DJ Susan Morabito spun at the closing party at Bounce.

While specific figures for the number of people at Dancin� were not available, AIDS Taskforce executive director Earl Pike believes that the funds raised will surpass last year�s totals, in part due to the large amount of sponsorships arranged by development director Judy Price.

Pike said the sponsorships paid for around 90% of expenses, meaning that the majority of funds raised from ticket sales and donations would go directly to the organization.

�Despite overcast skies and a 6 o�clock downpour, it was a great event and people had a lot of fun,� he said. �The committee, Jorge Castillo, John Farina and Rick Kemm, and certainly Judy did a great job this year of planning a weekend of events.�

Price noted that they were still collecting information from ticket agents across the city. She was surprised, however, at the number of tickets purchased in the host hotel.

�We had the welcome center at the Renaissance Hotel this year, and we sold a lot of tickets there,� she said. �I couldn�t believe it; people were going in just to buy tickets.�

Next year will mark the 20th anniversary of Dancin� in the Streets, which began as an outdoor party on West Ninth Street.

Domestic violence rises in Columbus, down nationally

Columbus--Reported incidents of domestic violence in the Columbus LGBT community rose 45% from 2001 to 2002, according to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs Domestic Violence Report, released July 23.

The Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization, the Columbus agency that feeds into the national report, received 64 reports in 2002, compared to 44 the previous year. NCAVP member organizations in Cleveland and Cincinnati, however, were not included in this year�s report.

According to BRAVO�s report, though, two factors indicate the increase may be less dire than it appears.

First, while there was a sharp rise in the number of Columbus incidents, the level continued to be much lower than in the years 1997 to 2000.

Second, the 2002 figures included heterosexuals who called BRAVO�s help line, even if they were then referred to other service agencies. These made up half of the increase in reports.

One-tenth of the Columbus reports were filed by people under 22 years old, with 42% being 23 to 44 years old. None of the reports came from people over 65.

Racially, the reporting reflected greater diversity than in previous years. The percentage of whites reporting domestic violence dropped to 38% from 59% in 2001, while African Americans increased to 19% of the calls. Two people identified themselves as Latina or Latino, one survivor identified as Native American and one as Jewish.

One person identified as transgender, 40 as female and 16 as male.

Ten areas in national report

Columbus was one of ten areas in the national report but three of these, Philadelphia, Burlington, Vt. and Tucson, Ariz., were reporting for the first time.

The seven areas that contributed to previous reports showed a 2% drop overall in the number of domestic violence incidents. In addition to BRAVO, groups in Colorado and New York City reported increases while Boston, Minnesota, San Francisco and Los Angeles showed drops in reported domestic violence.

In the national report, slightly over half of the survivors of domestic violence identified as male, compared to 42% female and two percent transgender.

Forty-five percent of the national total did not give their age, creating a gap in the data. However, of those who did, 15% were 22 or under, 71% were 23 to 44, and 12% fell in the 45-64 age bracket. Less than one percent were over 65.

Similarly, 43% of survivors did not identify their race or ethnicity. Among those who did, 47% identified as white, a slight increase from 2001. Differing from the BRAVO figures, the next highest group in the national reports was the Latino community, with 26%, and 14% from the African American community, down from 17% in 2001. Asian/Pacific Islanders made up 3%, while those identifying as multi-racial comprised 4%. The multi-racial designation percentage includes those who identified as Jewish, which is being phased out of the racial and ethnic classifications in the report.

The national report also noted that Jewish and multi-racial figures are most likely understated, since many multi-racial people probably declared themselves as members of a specific race, while most Jews in the report most likely defined themselves as white.

No figures from Cleveland, Cincinnati

According to Cleveland Lesbian-Gay Center communications manager Tim Marshall, his organization only received two or three reports of domestic violence, too few to report back to NCAVP.

Marshall warned, however, that even in Columbus, domestic violence is underreported.

�Even in cities where you have a hundred cases reported, it�s below what is really happening,� he said. �It�s harder to make the call for domestic violence than for a hate crime. There�s a lot more fear that can prevent someone from making that call.�

Marshall noted that the Cleveland Lesbian-Gay Center is actively seeking funding to increase their domestic violence reporting outreach.

Stonewall Cincinnati is the focal point for domestic violence and hate crime reporting for that city�s LGBT community. Major changes in the group over the last two years contributed to the lack of reporting. Funding difficulties led to the elimination of the executive director position, and board upheavals caused the focus of the organization to waver between larger social justice issues and specifically serving the LGBT community.

Carol Lippman, one of Stonewall Cincinnati�s board members, said they saw low reporting similar to the Cleveland Lesbian-Gay Center.

�We haven�t taken any domestic violence calls since I�ve been on the board,� she told the Gay People�s Chronicle. Lippman joined the board six months ago.

She stressed to Cincinnati�s City Beat last month the importance of collecting domestic violence and hate crime reports.

�It�s got to be a critical piece of Stonewall�s mission,� she said. �We can�t help them if they don�t report it.�

�Ohio treats same-sex domestic violence as domestic violence,� Marshall noted. �People experiencing it should report to their local law enforcement agency and their community center.�

BRAVO can be reached at 614-2689622, the Cleveland Lesbian-Gay Center at 216-6515428, and Stonewall Cincinnati at 513-6512500 to report domestic violence or anti-LGBT bias crimes.


Teen says he was abducted, raped after leaving center

Cleveland--A gay teen says he was abducted and raped by three men after leaving a program at the Cleveland Lesbian and Gay Center on July 11.

The 15-year-old victim told police that while waiting for a bus at West 65th St. and Detroit Ave., three men approached him calling him �faggot� and telling him they were �going to fuck him.�

The boy said that as he tried to walk away, one of the men stuck something in his back and grabbed his arm. He said he thought it was a gun. The men then walked him west on Detroit and made him get into a gray four-door Ford Explorer.

The Lesbian and Gay Center is located in that block of Detroit Avenue at 6600. A police mini-station is in the same building.

The incident occurred at 10:30 pm. The center closes at 10:00.

According to the police report, the victim left the center with 20 other young people and took the bus to the Grid nightclub downtown. The victim told police he changed his mind about going to the bar, and returned to the closed center to pick up a bag he had forgotten there.

Once in the Explorer with one man driving and the other two on either side of him in the back seat, the victim reported that they drove around for about 30 minutes. During that time, the men in the back seat began to touch his inner thighs.

The report says the vehicle stopped at a house �with an abandoned look� and the men led the youth inside.

Once inside, one held him down while the others removed his clothing.

The victim told police that all three men raped him, and he was forced at knife point to give oral sex to all three between 11:30 pm and 5:00 am the next morning, a Saturday.

After that, the youth told police he fell asleep for two hours, then was raped again by all three.

According to the report, by late morning or early afternoon, the men began arguing about what to do with the boy, including threats to kill him and bury him.

The teen told police that he was again driven around in the Explorer, while the men continued to argue about what to do with him as late as 5:00 pm.

He said that the only street sign he recognized was Randall Ave. in the Ohio City neighborhood, which was only about a minute from the house where the alleged rapes took place.

The victim stated he was dropped off at West 26th and Church Ave., also in Ohio City, and told he would be killed if he told anyone what happened.

According to the report, the Explorer fled south, and the victim was picked up by the Emergency Medical Service. The report does not indicate who called EMS. The victim was treated and examined for rape at Lutheran Medical Center. The results of the rape exam were unknown when the report was filed. The report was taken at the hospital.

The youth described the three men as one white, one black, one Hispanic. The white man is reported to be 5�8� and 160 pounds; the black man 6 feet and 200 pounds; the Hispanic man 5�10� and 165 pounds.

Police are not calling the matter a hate crime, even though Cleveland has a hate crime ordinance that includes sexual orientation.

�If you are calling someone a faggot while kidnapping them, it�s a hate crime,� said the center�s executive director Dr. David Smith.

Smith said it is the underreporting of such hate crimes that makes some people think bias crime laws for sexual orientation are not needed.

According to police detective Rochelle Bush, the decision not to classify this incident as a hate crime was made by Lt. Mark Ketterer, who supervises the officers who took the report.

Ketterer was not available for comment.

Bush, who is part of the sex crimes unit, said she will be responsible for the investigation after the victim makes his formal statement next week.

Smith said the youth has not returned to the center as far as he knows, and it has not been reported to center personnel.

The center is a reporting point for crimes against GLBT people, but it was not aware of the incident until two weeks later when a story describing the assailants as �sex-crazed gay men� appeared in a weekly paper.

The sexual orientation of the three men is unknown, but the police report says they used anti-gay slurs.

Smith said people noticed the story in the Cleveland Challenger �and were perplexed about it.�

�It is a terrible thing to do to this child,� said Smith of the crime. He pointed out that the center was not responsible for something that happened outside its doors, after it was closed.

�The Center will help if the person needs anything,� he added.

Smith said the number of violent acts against GLBT people increased 44 percent in Ohio in 2002, and much more goes unreported.




HIV rises for a third year among gay, bisexual men

Atlanta--The number of gay and bisexual men diagnosed with HIV climbed for the third consecutive year in the United States in 2002, fueling fears that the disease might be poised for a major comeback in this group.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which reported the finding on July 28 at the 2003 National HIV Prevention Conference in Atlanta, also revealed that AIDS diagnoses overall had risen 2.2 percent to 42,136 last year.

An estimated 850,000 to 950,000 Americans have the AIDS virus. AIDS killed 16,371 people across the nation last year, about 6 percent fewer than in 2001, according to the CDC.

Although U.S. health officials have been preaching HIV prevention to all Americans, they have become particularly concerned in recent years by an apparent resurgence of infections among gay and bisexual males.

HIV diagnoses among men who have sex with men surged 7.1 percent last year, according to data collected by the CDC from 25 states that have long-standing HIV reporting. New diagnoses in this high-risk group have increased 17.7 percent since 1999, while remaining stable in other vulnerable communities.

Dr. Harold Jaffe, director of the CDC�s National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention cautioned, however, that the jump in HIV diagnoses could have been caused by increases in the number of gay and bisexual males being tested for the virus and was not proof that this group was being infected at a faster rate.

Standard HIV tests cannot tell when a person was infected with the virus, leaving open the possibility that HIV was contracted many years before being detected.

That could change in the coming months as the CDC implements a new HIV tracking system, which is based on a blood test that it says can determine whether a person had been infected with HIV in the previous six months.

CDC officials said the new surveillance strategy, was prompted by a need for more precise data on HIV infections and trends. About 40,000 new HIV infections are reported in the nation each year.

Since the AIDS virus first surfaced in 1981, estimates of new HIV cases have been based on the predictable length of time--usually ten years--that elapsed between an initial infection and the onset of AIDS symptoms.

The development of antiretroviral drugs, however, has slowed the progression of AIDS and made it more difficult to determine when a person contracted HIV.

--Associated Press



N.J. poll shows surprising support for same-sex marriage

Trenton, N.J.--A poll showing significant support for same-sex marriages among New Jersey residents was released July 28.

The poll, which was commissioned by the four chapters of Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays in the state, was conducted by the conservative Zogby firm July 15-19. P-FLAG paid for the poll with a grant from Freedom to Marry.

New Jersey currently has a domestic partner benefits bill pending in its legislature. Also, seven same-sex couples are suing the state for the right to marry.

The poll surveyed 803 New Jerseyans, and has a 3.6 percent margin of error.

With 14 percentage points separating those who support and oppose same-sex marriage, the poll shows more support than any other to date, and conflicts with a national poll conducted by Pew Research a week earlier.

Zogby found that when asked the question, �Do you agree or disagree that gay couples should be able to marry?� 55 percent agreed, 41 percent disagreed, and 4 percent were undecided.

Pew found that 53 percent of Americans oppose same-sex marriage, though that opposition has declined over seven years.

Zogby spokesperson Duncan McCully called that particular question, which was one of five asked, �the question at the heart of the survey.�

�It doesn�t matter how you word the question,� said McCully, �the result is the same.�

But two other questions also pleased same-sex marriage advocates.

The first was: �As you know, Canada recently allowed gay couples to marry, and several states in the U.S. are considering allowing gay couples to marry. Keeping in mind that New Jersey recognizes out-of-state marriages between men and women, [should New Jersey] also recognize a gay couple�s out-of-state marriage?�

Fifty-seven percent agreed with that question, percent agree, 39 percent disagree, and four percent were undecided.

When asked, �The state is currently fighting the lawsuit filed by gay couples who wish to marry. Do you believe the state should continue spending taxpayer dollars to keep gay couples from marrying, or should the state drop the fight and use the resources to focus on other matters like the economy?� 67 percent said the state should drop the fight, while only 27 percent said the state should continue the fight. The rest were undecided.

New Jersey is one of only 13 states without a so-called Defense of Marriage Act defining marriage as being only between one man and one woman.

Mike Adams, of Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, who represents the couples in the marriage suit, said national trends in favor of same-sex marriage are most pronounced in states where couples have come forward and fought for the right to marry.

Adams said the court fights give an opportunity for public discussion and education.

�When the public has an opportunity to meet its gay neighbors,� said Adams, �the scare tactics of the anti-gays don�t work.�

The poll showed that 81% of 18-24 year olds support same-sex marriage.

Across political affiliation, the poll showed 68 percent support for same-sex marriage among Democrats, 33 percent among Republicans, and 60 percent among independents.

Racially, support was shown by 56 percent of white respondents, 69 percent of Hispanics, 44 percent of African- Americans, and 45 percent of Asians.

The religious breakdown showed 57 percent of Catholics in favor of same-sex marriage and 69 percent of Jews in favor. Among Protestants, 54 percent opposed same sex marriages.

The sample of Muslims showed 74 percent in favor of same-sex marriage, though the sample was small. Among those with no religious affiliation, 70 percent favor same-sex marriage.

News Briefs

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

Bush compares gays and lesbians to �sinners�

Washington, D.C.--In response to a reporter�s question, President Bush compared gays to sinners and reiterated his opposition to same-sex marriage. He also noted that his administration is working on a federal law to ban gay marriage, although one was already passed in 1996.

At a July 30 news conference, Bush was asked, �Mr. President, many of your supporters believe that homosexuality is immoral. They believe that it's been given too much acceptance in policy terms and culturally. As someone who's spoken out in strongly moral terms, what's your view on homosexuality?�

�I am mindful that we're all sinners,� Bush replied, �and I caution those who may try to take the speck out of their neighbor's eye when they got a log in their own. I think it's very important for our society to respect each individual, to welcome those with good hearts, to be a welcoming country.�

He then turned to same-sex marriage. �On the other hand, that does not mean that somebody like me needs to compromise on an issue such as marriage.�

Bush has long opposed gay marriage but earlier this month said that a constitutional ban on it proposed in the House might not be needed despite a Supreme Court decision that some conservatives think opens the door to legalizing same-sex marriage.

�I believe a marriage is between a man and a woman,� Bush continued. �And I think we ought to codify that one way or the other. And we've got lawyers looking at the best way to do that.

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation�s director of communications, John Sonego, warned that special scrutiny should be paid to Bush�s comments, both because of their religious tenor, but also because they show a lack of knowledge of the existing federal law limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples.

Gender bias bill sent to governor

Sacramento--The state Senate agreed July 24 to ban housing and job discrimination against residents whose �perceived gender characteristics are different from those traditionally associated with the individual�s sex at birth.�

The Senate voted 23-11 to add �gender identity or expression� to the dozen characteristics already protected under the state�s Fair Employment and Housing Act. If the governor signs the bill, California would become the fourth state to make it illegal to deny someone a job or place to live on that basis, after Rhode Island, Minnesota and New Mexico.

The legislation was part of a package of bills promoted this year by the California Legislature�s five-member Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Caucus. A bill that would grant domestic partners most of the same financial benefits as married couples was approved by the Assembly in June and is expected to be taken up the Senate next month.

Geoffrey Kors, executive director of Equality California, said that while some religious groups have been pressuring Gov. Gray Davis not to sign any gay civil rights legislation, he expects the embattled governor to come through for gay and lesbian voters.

Assassin said outing was threatened

New York City--Family, friends and political leaders gathered at a Brooklyn church July 29 for the funeral of Councilmember James Davis, who was shot to death July 23 at City Hall.

Davis, 41, a retired police officer, was shot before a City Council meeting. The gunman, Othniel Askew, 31, was killed by a police officer moments later. Askew was gay.

Davis, an ordained minister, joined the police force after he said he was beaten in 1983 by two white officers who accused him of stealing a car.

He was elected to the City Council in 2001, representing parts of Brooklyn�s Crown Heights, Fort Greene and Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhoods, and was described as a supporter of the gay and lesbian community.

Askew, the City Hall gunman, had filed papers to oppose Davis in the September Democratic primary, but he was disqualified when he failed to file his petitions. Askew and Davis met several times in the month before the shooting, and Davis told colleagues that Askew no longer opposed him.

On July 23, Askew phoned Davis to ask if he could accompany him to City Hall. When the two arrived, Davis asked a police officer on duty to allow Askew to bypass the City Hall metal detector with him. Davis apparently did not know that Askew was armed.

About 30 minutes later, Askew shot Davis in the balcony of the City Council chambers.

The morning of the shooting, Askew called the FBI to say that Davis had offered him a $45,000 payoff and threatened to expose him as gay to make him drop his challenge for Davis� council seat, law enforcement sources said. He also told this to others. Those claims have not been corroborated.

Hate crime suspected in teens� killing

Indianapolis--Police are not ruling out anti-gay bias in the July 23 death of 17year-old Gregory Johnson and his friend, 18-year-old Brandie Coleman.

The teens� bodies, both shot in the head, were found in a burning SUV.

According to friends and relative, Johnson would meet people online or through telephone chat lines and dress like a woman when he met them, although he identified as a gay male. Johnson�s cousin Kiasha Allen believes that his date may have discovered his true sex and, in a fit of rage, killed the two teens.

She theorized that Johnson may have been worried about the liaison, explaining why he brought Coleman with him.

Police are also looking into a possible drug connection to the crime. Coleman had been seen entering the apartment of a suspected drug dealer. Police raided the apartment and arrested two people on charges unrelated to the murders.

�There�s two or three roads you can go down,� Lt. Bob Hendrickson of the Marion County Sheriff�s Department told the Indianapolis Star.

�They traveled all those roads, and they are leaning heavily [toward] the transvestite road,� he said of the investigation.

Pennsylvania expands hiring rules

Harrisburg, Pa.--Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell signed an executive order July 28 barring state agencies from discriminating against employees based on their gender identity, adding transgendered people to the list of those whose rights are protected.

The order adds �gender identity or expression� to a list that already includes race, religion, age, sexual orientation and other criteria.

Stephen Glassman, chair of the state�s Human Relations Commission, said the change is needed, adding that he is aware of several cases in which people have been fired from state agencies based on their gender identity.

About 87,000 employees work for state agencies, boards and commissions.

Director John Schlesinger dies

Los Angeles--Openly gay director John Schlesinger, whose Oscar-winning Midnight Cowboy and thrillers like Marathon Man and The Falcon and the Snowman explored provocative themes such as male prostitution, torture and treason through the eyes of lonely underdogs, died July 25. He was 77.

The British-born filmmaker had a debilitating stroke in December 2000, and his condition had deteriorated significantly in recent weeks. On July 24, he was taken off life support at Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs and died around 5:30 a.m.

Schlesinger broke ground in 1969 with his first American film, Midnight Cowboy, which starred Jon Voight as a naive Texan who turns to prostitution to survive in New York and Dustin Hoffman as the scuzzy, ailing vagrant Ratso Rizzo.

The film�s theme was regarded as scandalous, but the tale of underdogs trying to survive in a merciless metropolis was embraced by critics and Hollywood despite its shocking sequences.

He explored homosexuality and bisexuality in 1971�s Sunday Bloody Sunday, which starred Peter Finch and Glenda Jackson as acquaintances who each reluctantly share a love for the same young man. The director received another Oscar nomination for the film.

His last film was the 2000 comedy The Next Best Thing, about a straight woman (Madonna) who has a child with her gay friend (Rupert Everett).

Born in London in 1926, Schlesinger lived in Palm Springs with his partner of 30 years, photographer Michael Childers.

First LGBT high school opens in fall

New York City--New York City is creating the nation�s first public high school for LGBT students.

Harvey Milk High School will enroll about 100 students and open in a newly renovated building in the fall. It is named after San Francisco�s first openly gay city supervisor, who was assassinated in 1978.

�I think everybody feels that it�s a good idea because some of the kids who are gays and lesbians have been constantly harassed and beaten in other schools,� Mayor Michael Bloomberg said July 28. �It lets them get an education without having to worry.�

The school is an expansion of a two-classroom public school program that began in 1984. A gay youth advocacy group, the Hetrick-Martin Institute, has managed and financed the program since its inception.

The new school�s principal, William Salzman, said the school will be academically challenging and will follow mandatory English and math programs. It also will specialize in computer technology, arts and culinary arts.

The Hetrick-Martin Institute�s web site says the school will give its students �an opportunity to obtain a secondary education in a safe and supportive environment.�

TG dad�s child custody appealed

Orlando, Fla.--A Christian legal organization announced it will appeal the decision to award a transsexual father custody of his children, saying the ruling recognizes a same-sex marriage in violation of the state�s �defense of marriage� act.

The Liberty Counsel of Orlando announced July 24 that it will appeal the decision February, 2003 decision of Judge Gerald O�Brien to award Michael Kantatras custody of the children from his nine-year marriage to Linda Kantaras.

Michael Kantaras is a female-to-male transsexual from Ohio. He and Linda were married in 1989 following sexual reassignment surgery. Kantaras� birth certificate was corrected after the surgery by a Mahoning County magistrate.

The two children were conceived with donated sperm.

During the divorce proceedings, which were nationally broadcast on Court TV, Linda said her reason for the divorce was that she became a Christian and changed her mind about the marriage.

O�Brien�s landmark decision was hailed by GLBT rights advocates because it declared that Michael is a man, and that their marriage was not a same-sex marriage, which is what Liberty Counsel seeks to overturn.�

Painted boys

Artist Charles Smith captures more than images

Charles Smith is a Columbus artist who works his magic using photography, traditional coloring implements and computer-based manipulations to create multi-media pieces that are immensely layered.

Norka Futon Gallery curator Amy Shepherd approached Smith to do a show there. She was an artist in the last show Smith was in and was impressed by his work.

Smith was delighted by Shepherd�s acknowledgement of his artistry. When she invited him to be a part of this latest show, he was excited to have the chance.

Smith was gearing up for the Norka show at the when he chatted about his art and his life.

Kaizaad Kotwal: What media do you work in and can you talk a little bit about your process?

Charles Smith: The process starts with my black-and-white photography that I print on normal paper.

From there I use color pens, watercolors and color pencil to alter the original photos. After this I scan the work into my computer and further manipulate the already-manipulated photographs using computer programs to do things you can only do with technology.

KK: What are you drawn to in terms of subject matter? Why?

CS: In my art I tell stories or give a sense of feelings about experiences in my life. These stories are about friends, lovers, and myself, the things we all go through in life. Via these images I have connected with people who recognize the meaning of the subject or find there own meanings therein. In turn, I use these images as a journal, to put something to paper, as a way to help confront it and resolve it.

KK: Who is your audience?

CS: I am not sure about that. From the buyers of my work I can tell that they all are diverse in personality, race, age, economic status, and gender. I think its just people who connect to the work and are able to relate to what they see from something in their lives.

KK: How much of your art is influenced by being a gay man?

CS: My artwork is about my life and my experiences. Hence, some of my work may have some gay subject matter in it. I have yet to work on images and art that deals with my own experiences about being in relationships and being in love. Who knows what that well look like.

KK: How much of your art is influenced by being a person of color?

CS: I have not covered that in my artwork as of yet. But if I did, it would be more about being and living as a gay person of color within the gay community.

It�s always crossing my mind about incorporating these experiences into my art, but for me, thus far, it�s been a hard subject to handle in this medium.

KK: Who are your inspirations from the art world?

CS: David Mack and Ashley Wood. I love mixing around all the possibilities in the art world, which is not to limit myself to one medium. I also love telling a story through my art. I guess that�s why I love Mack and Wood.

KK: What do you do to pay the bills?

CS: I work in a laboratory and that pays the bills. I use my art to pay for itsself. Each show I do, pays for me to make more artwork to do more shows, and on and on.

KK: Talk a little bit about any training you have in the arts.

CS: Formally, I have taken art and photography courses over the years. On a more personal and informal level I�m constantly analyzing my work, reading books, visiting galleries, and studying the work of contemporary artists.

KK: What is your opinion of the Columbus arts scene?

CS: The scene here in Columbus is great and has a lot of opportunities for local artists. However, I don�t think there is strong support for new artists that are up and coming. Also in my opinion, there isn�t a link between the gay community and the visual arts community, buts that�s more about the gay community than the latter.

KK: Tell us a bit about the show at Norka--who else is in it?

CS: In addition to my work, artists Docsznik Darlin and Jason Dobbs will be a part of the show as well. The show�s opening is in August 1 and it will run until September 30.

Norka Futon Gallery is located at 780 North High Street in the Short North district of Columbus. An opening reception will be held at 7 pm on August 1. The Gallery has extended hours during Gallery Hop events held on the first Saturday of each month. Please call 614-4249949 for more information.����� |




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