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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
March 7, 2003

Demoted officer wins
$320,000 from city

Cincinnati police had �gotcha program� for TG woman

Cincinnati--A federal jury awarded a transsexual police officer $320,000 and the opportunity to be reinstated as a sergeant following an eight-day trial that found that the city of Cincinnati demoted her for being transsexual.

The jury awarded Philecia Barnes the amount on February 27. It includes $150,000 compensatory damages, $30,511 back pay, and the option to take $140,000 front pay in lieu of reinstatement at the sergeant rank.

The suit was brought by Barnes and her attorney Al Gerhardstein in the U.S. District Court in Cincinnati under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and later rulings that it includes discrimination by sex-stereotyping.

Barnes now says the city can�t remedy the discrimination as long as Article 12 remains in the city's charter, and has asked the judge to strike it as part of her February 27 motion to be reinstated to the higher rank.

The suit was filed in October 2000, after the city claimed that Barnes, then male and named Phillip, failed a six-month probation following promotion to sergeant. Barnes was demoted in June, 1999.

Barnes later completed sex reassignment, and has continued to work for the department at the lesser rank and pay.

Barnes, who is also a former Marine sergeant and Desert Storm veteran, had a clean record as an officer for 18 years, then scored 18th out of 150 applicants on the promotion exam.

Barnes has also earned a masters degree in social work, and works in the unit that deals with issues of mental health.

�Everyone agreed that [Barnes] was an excellent officer before and after the demotion,� said Gerhardstein. �But it was the intent to set her up to fail [as a sergeant] so she would not become management.�

Gerhardstein said the city set up a special �gotcha program� for Barnes, that exacerbated some of her admitted shortcomings in order to find her unfit for the job.

At trial, police chief Tom Streicher testified that Barnes was put under the toughest scrutiny of any sergeant candidate ever.

That scrutiny included requiring her to drive only video-equipped cruisers, and to wear a microphone that recorded all conversations.

Barnes� evaluators filled out specially created five-page forms every day to document each mistake, especially the minor ones involving paperwork. Barnes was required to sign the forms.

She became the first sergeant candidate in the city�s history to fail probation.

Gerhardstein said the city knew Barnes was transgender prior to surgery because the vice squad videotaped Barnes, who then dressed as a man on duty and a woman off duty, at bars.

Gerhardstein said the work environment around the police force was hostile to gay people, and presented the jury with recordings of the lieutenant in charge of Barnes� station using �fag� to describe gay men.

At trial, Assistant Police Chief Ron Twitty testified that he twice told Barnes, who had arched eyebrows and long nails, to look and act more masculine.

Twitty and Streicher also testified that Barnes lacked �command presence,� though neither could demonstrate what they meant for the jury.

Article 12 is city�s job bias policy

Gerhardstein said Article 12 of the city�s charter figures into this case of discrimination because it became the city�s non-discrimination policy.

Article 12 prohibits the city from enacting any law protecting gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people from discrimination.

Gerhardstein said the city did not train its human resources people how to handle policies related to Article 12, so the article itself became the main employment policy of the city. He said that at the trial, an organizational psychologist testified that an ordinary reading of Article 12 suggests that intentional discrimination against GLBT people is acceptable.

Gerhardstein, who represented the Equality Foundation of Greater Cincinnati in its unsuccessful 1998 attempt to have Article 12 found unconstitutional, said U.S. District Judge Susan J. Dlott has the authority to remedy the discrimination. So, he has included, in Barnes� motion for reinstatement, a request that the judge also prohibit the city from enforcing Article 12.

The Cincinnati Enquirer called Barnes� motion �most serious legal challenge in years� of Article 12, and pointed out that if the judge rules in Barnes� favor, the city could pass laws that protect people based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

City Solicitor J. Rita McNeil defended the demotion, even after the jury�s verdict.

McNeil was not available for comment for this report, but told the Enquirer the city would appeal the jury�s decision and fight any attempt to throw out Article 12.

�This person unequivocally failed probation,� said McNeil. �This is not about Article 12. The issue is performance.�

Gerhardstein said the city could make the attempt to stop enforcement of the charter provision �complicated,� but doesn�t think it will involve re-trying the older attempts to have it declared unconstitutional.


 

Massachusetts high court debates allowing marriage

Boston--The state�s high-court justices engaged in a spirited debate of the legislative ban on same-sex marriage March 4 in a politically charged case that has garnered attention across the country.

If the Supreme Judicial Court sides with the plaintiffs, a group of seven same-sex couples, Massachusetts would become the first state in the nation to legalize gay and lesbian marriage.

The justices grilled attorneys with rapid-fire questions about the justification for banning same-sex unions. They explored whether the state�s prohibition of gay marriage was comparable to past bans on interracial unions, why gay couples can adopt children but not wed, and how the laws could be changed without sanctioning other unions, such as polygamy.

�Why should we do something that virtually no other state has done?� Justice Judith A. Cowin asked attorney Mary Bonauto of Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders.

�Because it�s the right thing to do,� Bonauto responded. �The exclusion of the plaintiffs from marriage violates a fundamental right� they share with everyone else in the state.

Several justices challenged assistant Attorney General Judith S. Yogman, who defended the state�s ban before the court, for basing her argument on the link between marriage and procreation.

�The optimal setting for procreation and child-rearing is a family with a parent of each sex,� Yogman said.

If procreation is the central purpose of marriage, Chief Justice Margaret Marshall said, could the state then order a couple who did not have children to divorce after ten years?

The case has attracted attention from across the country, with hundreds of organizations and individuals joining together to file a total of 26 briefs on behalf of the plaintiffs or the state. Those filing briefs included the states of Utah, Nebraska and South Dakota, several Catholic organizations, constitutional law professors, and civil rights organizations.

Courts in Hawaii and Alaska struck down bans on gay marriage in the 1990s, but voters quickly amended the state constitutions to undo the rulings by limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples.

After the Vermont Supreme Court found that a ban on same-sex marriage violated the state constitution, the legislature created civil unions in 2000. These give same-sex couples almost all of the rights and duties of marriage, but don�t apply outside of the state. California�s domestic partner registry grants some of the benefits of marriage, and a bill in the state�s assembly would increase that to equal civil unions.

Same-sex marriage cases are also before courts in New Jersey and three Canadian provinces.

A ruling in Massachusetts is expected in several months.

 


Transgender performer is
found murdered near Detroit

Green Oak Twp., Mich.--The body of a Detroit area performer was found in an abandoned farmhouse in this rural town on February 21, the victim of what family members and gay advocates say is a hate crime.

Nikki Nicholas was found shot to death in this small town, 15 miles north of Ann Arbor and about 50 miles outside of Detroit.

Nikki was born Anthony Nicholas, but had lived as a woman for the past two years. She was a popular performer in Detroit-area bars and lived in the inner-ring suburb of Southfield.

Nicholas was last seen February 15, going to a party between Detroit and Ann Arbor, home to the University of Michigan.

A multi-jurisdictional task force is investigating the crime, which so far has not been classed as a hate crime. Police sources say they are keeping their options open, however, and not ruling out the possibility.

Police from Green Oak Township and nearby Brighton, Livingston County sheriffs and Michigan state police are investigating in Green Oak, neighboring Washtenaw County, home to Ann Arbor, and the metropolitan Detroit area.

Nicholas� funeral was held on March 3, giving her family and friends a chance to grieve.

While police have yet to announce any major breakthroughs in the case, LGBT advocates note that they are pursuing it aggressively.

�In some cases, the lack of progress at this point can be attributed to a police agency that is ambivalent,� said Jeffrey Montgomery, executive director of the Triangle Foundation, the largest gay advocacy organization in Michigan. �That is certainly not the case in this instance.�

�These people are working really hard on this case,� Montgomery said of the police. �They care greatly about this case and about her.�

�One of the theories at this point is she may have gone somewhere with the wrong person,� he noted. No one knows yet if the killer set out to harm Nicholas, or if this person thought she was biologically female and killed her when they discovered otherwise.


Heterosexual couple, one TG,
appeals denial of marriage

Warren, Ohio--A heterosexual Trumbull County couple who was twice denied a marriage license because the groom-to-be is transsexual have appealed their case.

The appeal, which was filed in Ohio�s Eleventh District Court of Appeals in Warren on February 14, will impact Ohio policy on granting marriage licenses, especially to transsexual couples, regardless of its outcome.

The couple, Jacob B. Nash and Erin A. Barr of Warren, were twice denied marriage license by Trumbull County Probate Judge Thomas A. Swift because Nash is a female-to-male transsexual.

Swift�s court knew of Nash�s transsexual status only because the judge had granted Nash s legal name change from Pamela to Jacob in December 1999 after his sex reassignment surgery.

Otherwise, as it was established in both court hearings, Nash and Barr provided all documentation normally required of couples seeking a marriage license.

Testimony of court employees, including magistrate Thomas Norton, who denied the original August 2, 2002 application, suggested that Nash looked male. Witnesses said the license would have been granted without question had the court not already been aware Nash was transsexual.

For that reason, the appeal filed by Macedonia attorney Deborah A. Smith says Swift discriminated against Nash and Barr by holding them to higher standards than other couples seeking marriage licenses. This denied them equal protection under both the Ohio and United States Constitutions, Smith argues.

The brief also says that the court erred by refusing to grant full faith and credit under the U.S. Constitution to Nash�s Massachusetts birth certificate. That document was changed after his surgery to show that he is male.

Ohio is one of only four states that does not allow transsexuals to correct their birth certificates after surgery. Ohio probate courts follow a 1986 Stark County Probate Court ruling that a person s chromosomes, not their genitals, determine their sex for marriage purposes.

Nash and Barr also claim that Swift erred in several rulings during the earlier hearings. They say he either violated the court s jurisdiction or went against established law.

The most prominent of these is Swift s attempt to bring Nash�s medical records into court to determine his sex outside of Massachusetts� determination that he is male on the birth certificate.

According to the appeal, no Ohio court could ever have jurisdiction over Massachusetts law or public records.

But Judge Swift�s court disagrees, and in an unusual move, became a party to the suit by filing a brief March 3.

Marriage licenses are �ex parte� matters, meaning there is only one party, the couple. The probate court�s position is expressed through its rulings.

In this case, Swift�s court stepped into the suit as though the probate court itself were being sued, instead of appealed.

Trumbull County assistant prosecutor Luwayne Annos, representing Swift�s court, said that to disclose why he did this would violate attorney-client privilege. But she admitted that she knew of only a few cases ever challenged this way, and none of them were marriages.

Annos said that attorney Smith had challenged the court�s right to make inquiries into Nash�s medical records, and the court is just asserting its right to do so.

To justify this move, Annos and Swift cite a 1945 Hamilton County opinion, Hardin v. Davis, which involved a proxy marriage in Mexico. However, this ruling is unreported and thus not binding on any court.

�I don�t think [Hardin] gives them the right to file this brief,� said Smith, who may ask the appeals court to disregard Swift�s new legal position.

Nash and Barr are asking the appeals court to order Swift to grant the license effective August 7, 2002--the day it would have taken effect had he not intervened.


White supremacist pleads guilty to
killing gay couple

Redding, Calif.--A white supremacist pleaded guilty February 28 to the slaying of a gay couple in their Happy Valley home.

Under a plea agreement, James Tyler Williams, 32, will be sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for the shooting deaths of Gary Matson and Winfield Mowder in 1999. He could have received the death penalty had the case gone to trial.

Authorities said Williams committed the 1999 slayings with his brother, Benjamin Matthew Williams. The shootings happened two weeks after he and his brother firebombed three synagogues and an abortion clinic in Sacramento, 100 miles to the south.

The brothers were given 30-year prison sentences for the fires.

Benjamin Williams admitted that he killed Matson and Mowder, claiming that he was following �the laws of the Creator,� which call for killing gay men, he said.

�You obey a government of man until there is a conflict,� he said after his arrest. �Then you obey a higher law. So many people claim to be Christians and complain about all these things their religion says are a sin, but they�re not willing to do anything about it. They don�t have the guts.�

Despite his arguments of religious justification, the Williams brothers also robbed Matson and Mowder�s home and stole the couple�s car.

The couple were forced to record an answering machine message claiming that they had fallen ill and were seeking medical treatment before they were shot.

The elder Williams brother said that James Williams had nothing to do with the murders, a claim dismissed by prosecutors, who were seeking the death penalty.

Though no one was injured in the Sacramento blazes, they caused more than $3 million in damage to the synagogues.

The brothers were arrested when a parcel ordered with a credit card stolen from Matson and Mowder�s home was delivered to them.

Benjamin Williams killed himself in November in the Shasta County jail after his attorney asked prison officials to stop giving him anti-psychotic drugs so he could undergo medical tests to see if he had a physical defect in his brain.


Appeals panel has tough questions
on adoption ban

Atlanta--A federal appeals court had tough questions for both sides March 4 on the constitutionality, morality and rationality of Florida�s ban on gay adoptions, the only law of its kind in the nation.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the advocacy group Children First say the 1977 law pushed by anti-gay activist Anita Bryant should be thrown out because it bans the state from considering gays as prospective adoptive parents.

The state child welfare agency allows gay men and lesbians to be foster parents and permanent legal guardians. The lawsuit, filed by five gay men who have been taking care of foster children for years, has reached the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.

Attorney Casey Walker, arguing for the state before a three-judge panel, said Florida�s priority is adoption by married couples to encourage a stable home environment and promote heterosexual role models.

�It has to be contrasted with not having any kind of stable relationship at all,� Judge Stanley Birch responded. �The rationality of it, other than some kind of moral affirmation, is kind of hard for me to grasp.�

Judge Proctor Hug noted the 3,400 children eligible for adoption in a state where there aren�t enough foster parents and adoptive homes.

�There�s a shortage. Why isn�t that something we would consider when evaluating the rationality of the law?� he asked.

Walker responded that the lawsuit challenging the law was not a class action. Hug shot back, �But it�s also on behalf of the children.�

Children First attorney Christina Zawisza argued the state doesn�t believe its own �pro-family� claims because 40 percent of its child placements are in single-parent homes.

Judge Ed Carnes said he was concerned that overturning the ban on gay adoptions might affect the state�s right to exclude any group of people from adoptions, such as convicted felons.

He also cited a state court precedent upholding a ban on adoption by sexually active unmarried couples without reference to sexual orientation.

ACLU attorney Matt Coles said the state applies that restriction only to gays and lesbians.

Coles said he didn�t expect a decision until after the U.S. Supreme Court rules by June on a challenge to a Texas sodomy law criminalizing gay and lesbian sex.

Although Florida has the only law banning adoption by gays and lesbians, Mississippi prohibits adoption by same-sex couples and Utah prohibits gay or heterosexual unmarried couples from adopting.

 


News Briefs

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

Both New Mexico houses pass GLBT human rights bills

Santa Fe--Both of New Mexico�s legislative bodies have passed gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender human rights bills, and the Senate followed theirs with a hate crime measure.

The Senate on February 26 voted 22-18 to pass a measure to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the state�s Human Rights Act. An identical bill was passed two days earlier by the House.

One body�s bill must still be passed by the other before it can go to Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson, who has pledged to sign it into law.

If he does, New Mexico would become the 14th state with sexual orientation in its human rights law, and the third with gender identity.

The bill would make it illegal to discriminate in matters of employment, housing, credit, public accommodations and union membership.

Religious institutions would not fall under the anti-discrimination measure, but their for-profit or nonprofit spinoffs would.

Two days later, the Senate passed a gay-inclusive hate crime bill along party lines.

The vote was 24-17, with all the Democrats in the chamber in favor of it and all the Republicans against it.

Supporters of the bill have been seeking such a law for years, but it was twice vetoed by the previous governor, Republican Gary Johnson.

Richardson hasn�t committed to signing the hate crime measure, but he has said he supports its intent.

Illinois Senate gets rights bill

Springfield, Ill.--The Illinois Senate for the first time will debate a bill to protect gays and lesbians from discrimination, although the measure�s tepid endorsement in committee raised doubts about its future.

The bill banning employment and housing decisions based on sexual orientation passed the Democrat-controlled Executive Committee 8-4 on February 28.

The vote buoyed supporters who have labored for years to get the measure to the full Senate. The Democrat-controlled House has repeatedly approved the measure, only to have it blocked by the Republican majority in the Senate.

The measure�s sponsor, Sen. Carol Ronen, D-Chicago, predicted the bill will pass now that Democrats control the Senate, too.

The proposal adds sexual orientation to a state law that bans discrimination against people for jobs, housing, public accommodations or credit. The law currently protects people from bias based on race, religion and similar traits.

Similar legislation passed the House in 1993, 1997, 1999 and 2001. But each time, it died in the Senate. The measure has the governor�s support.

Mayor is in both St. Patrick�s parades

New York City--Mayor Michael Bloomberg marched March 2 in a gay-inclusive St. Patrick�s Day parade, delighting organizers who protest the exclusion of openly gay groups from the much larger Irish celebration on Fifth Avenue.

�I�m glad everyone�s here marching,� said Bloomberg, who walked at the front of a group of several hundred participants in the 15-block parade through heavily Irish sections of Queens. �I wish all parades could be that way.�

�People have said they could never imagine a St. Patrick�s Day parade that was open to all, and yet here we are,� said parade organizer Brendan Fay.

Bloomberg also plans to take part in the March 17 parade on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Gays are barred from marching under their own banner in that parade.

A small group of anti-gay demonstrators held signs that read �Shame� and �Sacrilege� at the March 2 event.

Bloomberg skipped the Columbus Day parade last year after organizers banned two actors he invited from The Sopranos, saying the show negatively portrays Italian-Americans.

Judge reduces Helmsley bias award

New York City--A jury�s award to a former hotel manager who allegedly was fired by Leona Helmsley because he was gay was reduced March 4 from $11.17 million to $554,000.

State Supreme Court Justice Walter Tolub said Helmsley is not a multibillion-dollar pi�ata �to poke a stick at in the hopes of hitting the jackpot.� He ruled that Charles Bell was not entitled to $1.1 million in economic damages, and $10 million in punitive damages was excessive.

On Feb. 4, a jury found that Helmsley, 82, had subjected Bell to an abusive and hostile work environment, and fired him after learning he was gay.

While cutting the punitive award to $500,000, the judge let stand awards totaling $54,000 for pain, suffering and emotional distress.

Lawyers for Bell, 48, called the judge�s ruling �a slap on the wrist� for Helmsley and said they would appeal.

Iowa workers get partner benefits

Des Moines, Iowa--A new two-year contract with state workers extends benefits to domestic partners, including same-sex couples, effective July 1.

The benefit was proposed in the past but has never been accepted until now. Only employees at Iowa�s three state universities have had this benefit since July 2000.

The benefits became public on the same day an Iowa Senate committee debated a proposal prohibiting gays and lesbians from adopting children or becoming foster parents.

Mollie Anderson, director of the Iowa Department of Personnel, said the state was told by its insurance carriers that the domestic-partner benefit will not increase health insurance costs. She said the new benefit simply allows state workers to describe their families in a different way. She didn�t have an estimate of how many people would be affected.

State seeks to dismiss marriage suit

Trenton, N.J.--A gay legal group is working on a response to the state�s request to dismiss a lawsuit by seven same-sex couples seeking the right to marry.

The attorney general�s office filed a motion in Mercer County February 24, asking Superior Court Judge Linda Feinberg to throw out the lawsuit that Lambda Legal Defense filed in June, 2002. The suit says the couples were denied their constitutional right to equal protection under the law. The case was transferred to Mercer County in November.

The attorney general argues that the New Jersey constitution provides no right to same-sex marriage and judges should not invent it. The right to marry has always been understood in law and tradition to apply to couples of different sexes, and those who seek to change that must take their cause to the legislature.

David Buckel, a Lambda attorney representing the couples, disagreed, saying Jim Crow laws that once discriminated against blacks were struck down by judges, not repealed by legislatures.

In the 2000 census, 16,604 same-sex couples reported living together in New Jersey and nearly 600,000 reported living together nationwide. Activists say the true number is likely higher.

�Dr. H. Anonymous� dies

Philadelphia--Dr. John E. Fryer, whose 1972 appearance before the American Psychiatric Association helped end the group�s definition of homosexuality as a mental illness, died February 21 of aspiration pneumonia following a degenerative respiratory illness.

Fryer appeared as �Dr. H. Anonymous,� wearing a wig and full face mask. He used a microphone that distorted his voice to further hide his identity, and spoke to the assembly about the difficulties he faced being in a profession that characterized him as mentally ill.

Homosexuality was removed from the organization�s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders the following year.

�I had been thrown out of a residency because I was gay,� he wrote in 1985, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. �I lost a job because I was gay. It had to be said, but I couldn�t do it as me.�

Fryer held the post of professor emeritus of psychiatry at Temple University. He is survived by his sister, Kathy Helmbock, who spoke before the Cincinnati City Council last month during their hearings on adding sexual orientation to the city�s hate crime ordinance.

�I spoke for the National Organization for Women, not only because we are a strongly pro-gay rights organization, but also because I loved my gay brother,� Helmbock said.

Sydney Mardi Gras has happy 25th

Sydney, Australia--Anti-war protesters poking fun at Saddam Hussein and plans to disarm his regime by force appeared prominently March 1 in Sydney�s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

The parade celebrated its 25th anniversary and its return from financial ruin last year that threatened to put an end to the annual festival of glitter and glamor sprinkled with political protest.

Since the event began in 1978 as a small gay civil rights march that degenerated into a riot, it has snowballed into a huge and colorful event that draws hundreds of thousands of tourists to Sydney and pumps millions of dollars into the economy.

Among floats at the parade was a 23-foot lime-green tank with golden wheels adorned with 16 dancers--most of them women--each sporting Saddam Hussein�s trademark thick mustache. The float was named �Madam Saddam and her Weapons of Mass Seduction.�

Other marchers called for the state government in New South Wales to adopt more progressive laws aimed at the gay community, including legislation clearing the way for gay couples to adopt children, giving partners in same sex relationships the same legal rights as married couples and recognizing gay marriages.

The parade, at one time the world�s largest Pride event, almost did not happen. The organizing company collapsed last year with debts of 700,000 Australian dollars (U.S. $420,000). New financial backers and a series of fundraising events managed to rescue the event.

An estimated 250,000 people turned out to watch the parade.

 


 

A view from under the bridge

In the Blood presents the pansexuality of poverty

Cleveland--When people think of the homeless, if they think of them at all, they mostly think of the classic image of the wino, begging quarters to get a bottle of booze. Less often do they think of a relatively young woman with her children, forced to huddle together against the cold.

Seldom would they think that the woman could be anything but heterosexual; after all, aren�t gay men and lesbians more affluent than their heterosexual counterparts?

Suzan-Lori Parks� play In the Blood, at Dobama Theat, shows the lie behind that assumption.

This is not to say that Hester, the main character in Parks� modern retelling of The Scarlet Letter, is lesbian or bisexual. It could be argued that, despite the plethora of children she has borne, she herself is more asexual than anything, at most reflecting other people�s sexual desires back at them as a form of erotic mirror.

Certainly the woman from the welfare office with whom she shared a m�nage � trois was far more active in their sexual encounter than Hester was. Hester�s best friend, Amiga Gringa, is the one who suggested that they engage in live sex shows to earn money, and Gringa is the one who wishes to film the act so they can sell the videotapes. All along, Hester herself seems more to acquiesce, to do anything that seems like it will benefit her and her children.

One of the most fascinating elements of the play is that, except for Hester, each of the other actors plays two roles, one of Hester�s children and one of the other adults in the play. This illustrates the cycle of poverty, abuse and exploitation, and asks if the children themselves will continue the cycle or break it.

So when Amiga Gringa talks about her feelings for Hester, it is the face of Beauty, her youngest daughter, speaking as well. Gringa�s relationship with Hester, however, is more complex than some of the other characters in the play, many of whom simply use her as a receptacle and then walk away.

�Gringa provides her with a kind of love she doesn�t get elsewhere,� said Sonya Robbins, who is directing the play at Dobama. �One of my jobs is preserving the innocence and purity of Hester in a world that is more corrupt than she is.�

Gringa and Welfare do not provide the only gay connection for the play, though. The play probably would never have been written were it not for one very famous gay man.

Parks took a writing class in the early �80s taught by James Baldwin, author of the gay classic Giovanni�s Room. Baldwin suggested that Parks start writing plays, and the advice has paid off handsomely for her. She has won two Obie Awards, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for In the Blood and won it for her play Topdog/Underdog, and wrote the screenplay for the Spike Lee film Girl 6.

In the Blood will be at Dobama Theatre, 1846 Coventry Rd, Cleveland Heights, through March 30, with a sign-language interpreted performance on March 21. For more information, call 216-9323868 or go to www.dobama.org. For reservations, call 216-9323396.

 

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