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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
May 30, 2003

Ohio rights bills, marriage ban discussed at town hall

Columbus�Leaders of the central Ohio gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community discussed state anti-marriage and civil rights bills at a town hall meeting hosted by Stonewall Columbus.

About 30 residents attended the May 21 meeting that offered insight into some of the area�s most active LGBT political organizations.

The panel included Mary Jo Hudson, representing the Human Rights Campaign, Karen Andermills of Ohioans for Growth and Equality, Chad Foust, president of the Stonewall Democrats, Sue White of the Log Cabin Republicans, and Stonewall executive director Kate Anderson, who spoke about her group�s Community Action Network.

Andermills spoke about the work of OGE in fighting the Ohio Defense of Marriage Act. The measure, reintroduced in the Ohio Senate on April 1, would bar recognition of same-sex couples, including local domestic partner ordinances.

�Ohio has a long history of putting out fires,� she said.

OGE has hired a full-time lobby firm, State Street Consultants of Columbus, to work on behalf of LGBT people at the Statehouse and to monitor the legislature.

�We learned a lot from the last round, when DOMA passed the House and nearly passed the Senate,� she said. �We didn�t have access to the inner circle at the legislature, and now we have that.�

The organization has two representatives from Cincinnati, two from Cleveland, two from Columbus, and one from other regions. Currently, the group is seeking representatives from Toledo and Akron.

Mary Jo Hudson talked about the Human Rights Campaign�s lobbying work in Washington. She noted that the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act is one area of current focus.

The HRC added bisexual and transgender people to their mission statement in 2000, and its strategy with ENDA has followed suit.

�We are taking a serious strategy to include gender identity with ENDA,� Hudson said. �Unfortunately, [Rep.] Barney Frank, on the House side, is adamantly opposed to it, and there are not enough votes yet to get it through.�

Hudson emphasized that HRC provides a lot of information on �kitchen-table issues,� including tax breaks, Social Security benefits, and legal advice.

�No gay or lesbian couple should have kids without a co-custody arrangement,� she said. �Anything else is completely irresponsible.�

Sue White explained that she is a fairly new member of the Log Cabin Republicans, but she has been fiscally conservative for a long time.

�I believe that we have to work with both sides of the aisle,� she said.

White explained that Log Cabin is making some progress with the current administration. For example, three White House aides spoke with two hundred Log Cabin members during the group�s annual meeting on May 9.

One audience member asked White whether she would endorse any currently elected officials from the Republican side.

She responded that there are signs of Republicans who fed up with opponents from the far right, and she clarified that Log Cabin is an organization that seeks to advocate for lesbians and gays among members of the Republican Party.

�We would withhold an endorsement from a Republican,� she said.

Some in the audience wondered aloud whether it is better to only seek influence with legislators who seem �liberal� on the surface. Many brought up former Republican State Rep. Amy Salerno of Columbus, who had been historically supportive of the gay community but voted in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act.

�We need to be able to work with elected officials, whoever they are,� Hudson said. �Yes, Salerno voted poorly on that decision, but she has taken votes on several issues that have stopped a lot of bad stuff.�

Chad Foust discussed the work of the Stonewall Democrats and their lobbying efforts.

�I stand here as a partisan,� he said. �We support only those who support our issues.�

Foust spoke about House Bill 147, introduced by State Rep. Dale Miller of Parma, and Senate Bill 77, introduced by State Sen. Dan Brady of Cleveland. The House bill would protect people from discrimination by sexual orientation or gender identity in housing, finance, and employment. The Senate measure is similar but does not include gender identity, which is expected to be added in committee.

He noted that actually reaching out to legislators can make a difference.

�I wrote personal letters to Dan Brady and [State Rep.] Joyce Beatty to thank them for supporting this bill. I wrote [State Rep.] Larry Price a personal letter that said �I�m disappointed with you for not supporting this bill,� Foust said. �And I received a phone call from Price�s aide, who offered an apology and who said that this would be rectified in the future.�

Still, Foust noted that more work needed to be done.

�We had 11 Democrats vote for DOMA� in the last session, he said.

After each representative discussed their organization, audience members asked questions, including, �How do we hold our elected officials accountable?�

Hudson suggested that Stonewall Community Action Network should rank candidates or city council members.

Kat Steger of Columbus commented that Columbus does a beautiful Pride festival but wondered why there is no lobby day.

White, a health care expert who is also a member of the Joint Household Benefits Committee, gave a timeline of the benefits. The committee, appointed a year ago by Mayor Michael Coleman, is exploring ways to extend health benefits now given to city workers� spouses to other members of their household, including same-sex partners.

�The [committee] will make written recommendations at the end of June,� she said.

 


Marriage ban would amend Constitution

Washington, D.C.--Three Democrats and three Republicans in the House of Representatives reintroduced a measure to change the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriages on May 21.

Besides defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman, the constitutional amendment would also specify that state legislatures decide marital law, not the courts.

The amendment is being promoted by an anti-gay organization known as the Alliance for Marriage, which worries that suits currently before the courts in New Jersey and Massachusetts could result in one of the states allowing same-sex marriage.

Gay and lesbian couples from other states would then get married there and demand their home state recognize the union, the group says. The Constitution�s �full faith and credit� clause requires states to recognize the �Acts, Records and judicial Proceedings of every other State.�

The federal �Defense of Marriage Act� passed in 1996 allows states to refuse to recognize gay marriages performed in other states, although none allow them. The closest structure is the Vermont civil union, which provides many of the benefits of marriage, but only to Vermont citizens and residents.

In Canada, courts in three provinces have ruled that denying full marriage to same-sex couples is a violation of constitutional guarantees of equal rights. Both the Netherlands and Belgium have legalized same-sex marriages.

To amend the Constitution, a joint resolution must first pass the House of Representatives and the Senate with a two-thirds majority in both bodies. The measure then goes to the states, where it must be ratified by three-quarters of the legislatures.

With Gov. Rick Perry�s signing of Texas� �defense of marriage act� on May 27, his state became the 37th to pass a law refusing recognition of same-sex marriages. Anti-gay groups have pointed out that this is one short of the number of states needed to ratify a constitutional amendment. They are promoting a similar Ohio bill, introduced April 1, as the final one needed.

Last year a similar constitutional amendment was introduced in the House of Representatives but not in the Senate, and never saw legislative action. The current measure also has no companion bill in the Senate.

�This amendment, and the small handful of people supporting it, not only face strong opposition in the hearts and minds of most Americans, but also have to overcome significant built-in constitutional hurdles,� said Elizabeth Birch, executive director of the Human Rights Campaign. �Ultimately, this amendment will most likely equate to little more than a mean-spirited sideshow.�

The Constitution has been amended 27 times since it was ratified in 1789. The most recent amendment took effect in 1992; the previous one in 1971. An amendment guaranteeing equal rights on the basis of sex failed to gain ratification in 1982.



Boyd schools ask judge to dismiss lawsuit for GSA

Ashland, Ky.--School officials deny they violated federal law by banning a gay-straight alliance from meeting at Boyd County High School and want a judge to dismiss a lawsuit against them.

The response of the school board, Superintendent Bill Capehart and Boyd County High School Principal Jerry Johnson challenges the lawsuit, which U.S. District Judge David L. Bunning ruled last month has �a strong likelihood� of winning.

�The case hasn�t been tried on the merits yet,� said Sheri Bryan, chairwoman of the Boyd County school board.

The lawsuit was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the gay-straight alliance, seven students and their parents, and Kaye King, a high school English teacher who is the alliance�s adviser. The response was filed
May 8.

After the school�s teacher-parent council voted 3-2 in October to let the group meet on campus, the school board in December banned all noncurricular student clubs from using school facilities. But the ACLU sued in January, saying some student groups were allowed to meet at school while the alliance was not allowed to meet.

The ACLU said the district violated the alliance members� free-speech rights, failed to end anti-gay harassment and violated the Kentucky Education Reform Act by overturning a school council decision.

Bunning agreed. He issued an injunction requiring the district to let the Gay-Straight Alliance meet at school, pending resolution of the lawsuit.

Bryan said the school board did not want to appeal the injunction because school is nearly over for the year.

King said May 19 that the alliance has been meeting weekly at the school with 10 to 12 members at each meeting.

�We�re not having any trouble with the students here at school,� King said.

In its response to the lawsuit, the district denied discriminating against the gay-straight alliance, failing to address anti-gay harassment and violating the reform act. The response also said that the alliance failed to pursue all administrative channels in regard to the club ban and that the district had the right to ban clubs �to maintain order and discipline in the school district as permitted under both state and federal law.�

School board members said in December that they banned clubs through June 30 to give the board time to rewrite the district�s club policy. Bryan said that the process is ongoing, but that the board likely will revise the club policy next month, and it will go into effect July 1.

�It will be equitable across the board for all clubs,� she said.

Boyd County is located at the point where Kentucky meets both Ohio and West Virginia, about 100 miles south of Columbus.

--Associated Press

 

 


Panel to rule on man ejected from bus station for kissing

Columbus--A man who says he was thrown out of a Greyhound station for kissing his boyfriend goodbye had his day before the city�s Community Relations Commission on May 27.

T.J. Williams, 30, of Youngstown, says a security guard ejected him from the terminal on June 15, 2002 for kissing another man at Gate 7 while waiting for a bus. Williams was returning home from a meeting of the Ohio Department of Health�s HIV prevention planning team.

Williams missed his bus and was banned from the terminal for three days, causing him to lose his job and miss a television interview.

A week later, Williams filed a complaint against Greyhound and Global One Security under a Columbus ordinance prohibiting discrimination by sexual orientation. The other man, whom Williams says is closeted, did not join the filing.

In November, Greyhound offered Williams $500 to settle the matter. The commission accepted the settlement but Williams did not, saying that it did nothing to make Greyhound change its policies on GLBT travelers.

The commission cannot award Williams monetary damages, but can clear the way for Williams to sue Greyhound.

The proceedings were heard by attorney John Tanoury, who is hired by the commission to hear cases and make recommendations to it.

Global One Security is also a defendant. They are no longer employed by Greyhound, and did not have a representative at the hearing.

Early in the hour-long hearing, Greyhound attempted to distance itself from Global and its employee Michael Forney, the guard who told Williams and his friend to �stop the freaky-deaky shit or get out of the terminal.�

Williams�attorney Randi Barnabee said later that Greyhound�s posture on Global won�t work because the bus company is responsible for what its contractors do.

Greyhound attorney Douglas M. Kennedy presented 16 tickets from trips Williams has taken on Greyhound since the incident to show that the company is not discriminating against Williams as a customer.

He also presented terminal manager Vicki Gordon-Smith as a witness. Williams had discussed the matter with her before filing his complaint last year.

�She has been nice to you, hasn�t she?� Kennedy asked Williams.

�Yes,� he responded.

Though many of the tickets Kennedy presented did not involve Columbus trips, Kennedy objected to Williams� testimony about a February incident while boarding a bus in Cleveland because �that trip didn�t involve Columbus and doesn�t fall under Columbus law.�

Williams believes the driver that day recognized him from the Columbus incident and asked him, �We aren�t going to have any problems out of you today, are we?� Gordon-Smith admitted that was not typically how Greyhound treats passengers.

She also testified that Greyhound has no policy regulating public displays of affection by passengers in its terminals.

Gordon-Smith said that Forney approached the couple because of other passengers� complaints, though neither she nor Kennedy produced any names.

Gordon-Smith was not present at the time of the incident and learned of it through a shift supervisor. She described the matter between Forney and the couple as �an altercation� and said the men were fondling each other�s buttocks and genitals, as reported by other passengers.

Barnabee asked Gordon-Smith if she knew of any other incident where a couple was approached by security for public display of affection.

Gordon-Smith then described an incident where a heterosexual couple was �lying on the floor and had their hands running over each other�s bodies.�

�What happened to them?� asked Barnabee.

�They were told to stop and they did,� responded Gordon- Smith.

�Were they asked to leave the terminal?� asked Barnabee.

�No,� said Gordon-Smith.

�So, a heterosexual couple rolling on the floor was given the opportunity to cure the alleged defect and allowed to remain,� said Barnabee. �Why was [Williams] offered no remedy? Why the disparity?�

Gordon-Smith testified that since September 11, 2001, Greyhound has adopted a policy of zero tolerance for aggressive behavior.

Kennedy presented Tanoury with posters announcing the policy, which he said are posted on every door of the terminal.

Gordon-Smith told Barnabee that the policy includes �verbal aggression toward a security officer� and said Williams was thrown out because he was verbally aggressive toward Forney. The heterosexual couple didn�t argue with the security officer, she said.

Later, Gordon-Smith testified that drunk people who are removed from the terminal are allowed to return �when they are sober.�

�But [Williams] had no guidance as to when he could come back?� asked Barnabee.

�No,� she replied.

In an earlier interview, Greyhound national spokesperson Kim Plaskett told the Gay People�s Chronicle that the company has �zero tolerance for discrimination� and that it abides by all local laws such as Columbus� that protect on the basis of sexual orientation.

However, Gordon-Smith testified that officers of the new security company have not been trained on Columbus� human rights ordinance since this incident.

Williams told Tanoury he wants Greyhound to include sexual orientation in its non-discrimination policy printed on every ticket, an apology, and compensation for his inconvenience.

Tanoury said his report will be completed �in about three weeks.� The commission will consider the report and rule at its first monthly meeting after getting it.

 


Outed Senate candidate refuses to say if he is gay

Tallahassee, Fla.--Rep. Mark Foley, a Republican candidate for the Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Bob Graham, is refusing to discuss his sexual orientation after a newspaper outed him.

Foley was outed in the New Times, a Palm Beach alternative weekly. Bob Norman, author of �Out with the Truth,� an article in the May 8 issue, quoted Tracy Thorne, a friend of Foley, who claimed that Foley and his boyfriend had attended functions with Thorne�s family.

Thorne gained fame in 1992 when, as a Navy lieutenant, he came out on ABC�s Nightline during the national debate that produced �don�t ask, don�t tell.�

Norman argued that Foley should come out of the closet and be truthful with his supporters.

The writer mentioned an earlier article discussing Foley�s voting record on gay issues. Although he is a conservative Republican, Foley has consistently cast pro-gay votes, with the exception of one for the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act in 1996.

Foley, however, still refuses to say if he is gay or not.

�This is the kind of question that I do think is highly inappropriate,� he said in a conference call with Florida political reporters. �My mother and father raised me and the rest of my family to believe there are certain things we shouldn�t discuss in public.�

Foley initiated the conference call to go on the offensive after he found that a mainstream Florida daily was considering a story on the outing. He accused Democratic activists of spreading rumors that he is gay in an attempt to smear him and damage his candidacy, which Republican leaders hope will shore up their thin majority in the Senate.

Foley and other Republican leaders argue that he should be judged on his record, which he is trying to paint as hard-line conservative by bringing up his opposition to gun control and support for stricter regulation of immigration.

His record, however, is what has some far-right elements worried.

Ken Connor, the executive director of the anti-gay Family Research Council told the Miami Herald that Foley�s voting record �represents the radical homosexual agenda, and I�m not sure that�s the path our party needs to take.�

Sentiments like Connor�s have raised suspicions that the push to have Foley come out of the closet may actually have been orchestrated by far-right Republicans in Florida. Some party strategists worry that Foley is too moderate to defeat former Rep. Bill McCollum in a primary decided by party hard-liners. McCollum, however, lost his bid for the Senate in 2000, and Foley is believed to stand a better chance of victory overall.

Members of the Republican leadership, from House majority leader Tom DeLay to Florida governor Jeb Bush, expressed their support for Foley, calling attempts to out him �underhanded rumormongering.�

 


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Gay mens health summit
seeks to move beyond HIV

Raleigh, N.C.--Gay-oriented health workers and activists are overly focused on HIV to the exclusion of other serious gay health problems.

That was one of the main premises driving the third National Gay Men�s Health Summit, which drew more than 320 people to this humid, historic southern capital May 7-11.

�What we�re trying to do is create a multi-issue, multi-racial, queer men�s health movement,� said the summit�s media man, Erik Libey, who works with AIDS Rochester in New York state.

�It�s about shifting directions in queer men�s health, taking some focus off of HIV and AIDS and putting it on some of the other health concerns . . .� We�re tying to motivate queer men to start a grassroots movement around our own health.�

Libey said issues that need more attention include drug and alcohol use, eating disorders, body-image problems, a new drug-resistant staph bacteria, and all of the older sexually transmitted diseases, including hepatitis, gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis.

�We�ve seen a number of pretty dramatic syphilis outbreaks among queer communities all around the country,� Libey noted.

The summit offered more than 130 workshops, institutes, caucuses and meetings dealing with a wide range of subjects from aging to party drugs to hepatitis C to September 11 survivors.

�We face a lot of challenges as we meet this week,� said veteran activist Eric Rofes, convener of the summit. �Some of us are coming together because we�re aiming to build community, to have more holistic approaches to health. Some of us are here because of serious reports we�ve read about syphilis, staph infections, all kinds of HIV challenges, substance abuse and crystal epidemics. Some of us are here knowing that as political winds move to the right, we really need to unite and support ourselves more so we can continue to do the kind of work we know is meaningful to the communities and subcultures we come from.�

Some of the workshops were closed to the media, including the one entitled �Eroticizing HIV: Beyond Bareback, Beyond Edge, Beyond Taboo,� although a reporter was allowed to sit in the workshop if he didn�t take notes.

�Gift-givers and bug-chasers definitely exist,� said Libey. �But in my experience as an HIV-prevention worker and as someone who does pre- and post-test HIV counseling, it�s not the most common thing that I see.�

Libey dismissed as suspect a controversial Rolling Stone magazine article in February that suggested 25 percent of new HIV infections result from bug-chasing--the deliberate seeking out of HIV infection by having unprotected receptive anal sex with an HIV-positive �gift-giver.�

Rofes said there�s no simple answer to the problem of people who get off on infecting someone or becoming infected.

�Punitive approaches to gay men often get us what we don�t want,� he said. �So I wouldn�t advocate closing down those [gift-giver/bug-chaser] web sites, and I wouldn�t advocate discouraging people from advocating those practices. I would, if I believed discouraging the most-at-risk gay men would make them not do it, but I don�t believe it works that way.�

The web sites actually are a good thing, Rofes said.

�Web sites are really great places for people to get off without creating much risk to themselves,� he said. �I think that�s true in extreme sex in general.�

The work of bringing down the HIV transmission rate does not need to be concerned with �individual people�s fetishes,� Rofes said, but rather with barriers that prevent people from taking control of their sex lives.

�As we approach 25 years into the epidemic, the powerful and almost unitary AIDS approach to gay men�s health has produced problems for us,� he said.

�Starting to look at cultural interventions around health in the community in a big-picture way, without even talking AIDS, might end up having people take better care of themselves and be more conscious of various health challenges, including HIV.

�We�re struggling to find a way to make it exciting and meaningful to get involved with building life-affirming, sustaining queer-men�s health communities,� Rofes said. �We�re at the start of determining what that looks like, how that avoids being sanitizing and middle-class and �goodie,� and how it can appeal to mass numbers of people. We face a huge challenge and we�ve just started the work. We�re looking at getting at the underlying causes that create cycles of health challenges to gay men: Continued generations of people who feel a huge amount of shame and guilt around not only their gay identities but around their sexual desires and practices. People who feel disempowered. People who feel like their sexual, their spiritual, their physical and mental health are separated and fragmented.�

If the summit�s vision becomes reality someday, said Donald Hitchcock of the National Coalition for LGBT Health, �We will be able to address a lot of the issues that maybe lead to higher rates of HIV infection such as mental health and substance abuse.

�The ideal clinic that we would all like to see in our communities,� Hitchcock said, �would be one where you would go in and it wouldn�t be just focused on getting your AIDS test. You would have a doctor that could address all your health needs, asking you about your allergies, when the last time was you had a testicular exam. Wouldn�t it be nice that those HIV clinics could become those centers that we could go to? This sort of broader approach is what we�re working on in the [LGBT health] coalition as well.�

The summit took place in downtown Raleigh, about two miles from former senator Jesse Helms� house.

�I really like the idea of having an event like this in the South,� said Ian Palmquist, assistant director of the statewide gay lobbying group Equality North Carolina. �I think very often our national movements don�t pay a lot of attention to the South and we have a lot of work to do here. But we are not so bad off that we need to be written off completely, and I think that�s an attitude that a lot of folks in other parts of the country may have.�

North Carolina is one of 13 U.S. states that criminalize gay sex.

 


Go to Discussion Forum Top of Page

 

News Briefs

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

As he promised, Rev. Van Kuiken marries another couple

Cincinnati--Rev. Stephen Van Kuiken, reprimanded last month for performing marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples and ordaining openly gay deacons and elders, made good on his promise to continue marrying gay couples on May 17.

Van Kuiken married a lesbian couple at Mt. Auburn Presbyterian Church, a month after an ecclesiastical court found him guilty of violating church doctrine and told him not to do so again.

�I was kind of amused by the decision because I told them ahead of time,� Van Kuiken told the Cincinnati Enquirer. �It�s like they wanted to warn me one more time. So I told them that we did it again. I�m not hiding it.�

While the Presbyterian church will let its clergy bless same-sex unions as long as they are not called marriages, Van Kuiken said that it violated his conscience to do so.

Officials at the Presbytery of Cincinnati said that disciplinary action against him is unlikely, at least until his appeal of the previous decision runs his course. If higher ecclesiastical courts uphold his conviction, a new complaint would need to be filed for him to be charged.

Men with quads have more on way

Lexington, Ky.--A woman who gave birth to quadruplets for two gay men last summer is expecting again.

Ten months after giving birth to the quadruplets, Brooke Verity says she is pregnant again through in-vitro fertilization.

Four embryos were implanted five weeks ago, Verity said May 21. Medical tests haven�t revealed how many babies she is carrying.

The biological father of the quadruplets born July 26 is Michael Meehan, a Lexington lawyer. In the new pregnancy, Meehan�s domestic partner, Lexington hairstylist Thomas Dysarz, is the biological father, Dysarz said.

As with the first four babies, Meehan and Dysarz will share parenting duties.

The couple said if this pregnancy doesn�t result in multiple births, Dysarz and Verity will try in vitro fertilization again so that he can have more than one biological child.

The men, who own Lexington�s two Planet Salons, juggle their schedules so that one of them is almost always with the babies, and they employ one nanny, Dysarz said.

Although the infants were born several weeks prematurely, at ten months they aren�t showing any signs of medical problems or developmental delays, Dysarz said.

Drag performer Pepper LaBeija dies

New York City--Pepper LaBeija, a famed queen of the Harlem drag balls died in Manhattan of a heart attack on May 14 at age 53.

LaBeija, whose given name was William Jackson, was known for appearing and performing in gleaming feminine clothing at the balls, which were captured in the 1991 documentary Paris is Burning.

She was seen as the last of the great queens of the Harlem balls. Others, including Angie Xtravaganza, Dorian Corey and Avis Pendavis, have all died.

LaBeija was legendary to those who were part of the drag balls, in which the competitors costumed themselves in extravagant ways and performed. She won as many as 250 trophies for her takes on high fashion.

�This is the end of the golden age,� said Brian Lantelme, who has covered the drag balls as a photographer.

LaBeija took her name from the �house� she led. All those who performed as part of the group used the same surname.

�A house is a family for those who don�t have a family,� she said in Paris is Burning.

She led the House of LaBeija for more than 30 years, even while stricken with diabetes, for which she had to have both feet amputated. Her income came from producing the drag balls and teaching modeling, according to her friend, Marcel Christian LaBeija.

Teacher accused of anti-gay assault

Houston--An assistant coach who also serves as a teacher�s aide is being accused of violently assaulting a gay student.

The youth, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the man stretched some plastic between his hands, wrapped it around the boy�s neck and lifted him out of his seat in a classroom before slamming him to the floor.

Eight students confirmed the young man�s account of the events in the classroom.

According to the youth, the teacher�s aide had verbally harassed him all year because of his homosexuality.

�He would say negative, gay things about me,� he told Houston�s KRPC.

The Houston Independent School District has reassigned the aide away from students and Westbury High School, where the attack took place while an investigation into the incident is underway.

The student, who has two hairline fractures in his arm from the incident, is recuperating at home and plans to press charges against the aide.

�Homosexual Matrix� author is dead

Nyack, N.Y.--C.A. Tripp, the author of a widely read book that sought to dispel popular misconceptions about homosexuality, died May 17 of cancer. He was 83.

Tripp�s book The Homosexual Matrix, a scholarly work published by McGraw-Hill in 1975, set forth new ideas about sexual attraction and sold nearly 500,000 copies.

Author and AIDS activist Larry Kramer said in an interview with the New York Times that the book was the first from a �reputable source� that �dared to speak openly of homosexuality as a healthy occurrence.�

Born Clarence Arthur Tripp in Denton, Texas, Tripp studied at the Rochester Institute of Technology and served in the Navy before immersing himself in the work of Freud during the 1940s.

Beginning in 1948, he worked with Alfred Kinsey at his Institute for Sex Research in Bloomington, Ind., until Kinsey�s death in 1956.

Tripp then earned an undergraduate degree from the New School for Social Research and a doctorate in clinical psychology from New York University, eventually establishing a private psychology practice.

He and author Lewis Gannett recently finished a biography of Abraham Lincoln that says that the former president was gay.

Supremacists disrupt meeting

Stratford, Conn.--An 18-year-old man is facing charges after he allegedly disrupted a gay group�s meeting with a band of white supremacists, police said.

The disturbance erupted May 21 after a group of young men calling themselves the White Wolves went to the Stratford Library to protest the gathering of the Bridges LGBT Community Organization.

Police were called and Matthew V. Zrallack, 18, allegedly assaulted Detective Frederick Wilcoxson.

Zrallack was charged with third-degree assault, breach of peace, and intimidation based on bigotry or bias. He is free on $25,000 bail and is scheduled to appear May 29 at Superior Court in Bridgeport.

Police said Zrallack is a member of the White Wolves, a self-proclaimed �white nationalist skinhead organization� that was started about a month ago.

Zrallack denied or knowing anything about the group.

Zrallack was the center of controversy last year for allegedly giving the Nazi salute on the Stratford High School yearbook cover, the Connecticut Post reported. Zrallack said at the time that he was �doing the wave� with his rigid, outstretched arm.

The Bridges meeting was held to discuss plans for opening a community center in Stratford, Cappiello said.

 


 

Great things happen by accident

 

Sophie B. Hawkins wishes to follow the spirit that moves her

For Sophie B. Hawkins, life is an open question. By her own assessment, to live in a state of openness to change and movement is not always the easiest way to be, but it is the one she knows. She even grants an interview in motion--from her cell phone in her truck on the way back from rehearsal, then walking along the streets of Venice, California.

She speaks with friendly exuberance, with phrases sometimes circuitous as she weaves toward clarity. She approaches her upcoming tour with a curious sense of mystery. Choosing not to keep up with shows booked or travel plans, she affords herself no worries.

Hawkins rose to public awareness with her 1992 hit �Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover� from her debut album Tongues and Tails. The song earned her a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist, but the original video was banned by MTV, though to this day she is not sure why.

�Maybe it was what I was wearing. Record companies never tell you what�s going on. They always keep you guessing,� Hawkins reflects with subdued frustration.

Whaler (1994) featured the smooth adult contemporary single �As I Lay Me Down,� which spent one of the longest running times on any Billboard chart at 67 weeks.

Hawkins manager, filmmaker Gigi Gaston filmed a provocative documentary on her, The Cream Will Rise, in 1996. The film captures concert footage, along with the performer�s complex emotional world and difficult background.

Her third and most recent album, Timbre, could easily have never been released. Sony executives delayed it, believing that the banjo on the single �Lose Your Way� should be replaced by a more conventional guitar. Hawkins dug her heels in to fight for her artistic vision.

Fans mobilized, called themselves� the �Cracker Army,� and lobbied the company to release the album as is. Finally, it did so in 1999, and an expanded version appeared on Rycodisc in 2001.

The artist now urges the �Cracker Army� to mobilize their energy toward environmental and animal rights causes.

�Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover� was mildly controversial during its recording when Hawkins refused to change the gender reference in her picturesque, erotic lyrics: �I sat on the mountainside with peace of mind/And I lay by the ocean making love to her/with visions clear.�

However, her candor left her open to new questions. When a New York Times reporter asked, �Are you gay?� in her first major interview, she had never before defined her sexuality. At the time, she was involved with a man--her much older African drum teacher. She was aware of her attraction to women, but deep, loving relationships with women were still in the future.

�Omnisexual,� she recalls, �was a feeling that came. I was on the spot.� She rebuffs the misconception that the word bisexual sometimes brings--that it signifies a kind of split identity or fractured existence.

�Omnisexual means that I am singular--one person, not a fragment,� she says, regardless of the identity of her partner. �When I wrote �I am everything� in �Damn,� this is [one of the things] I meant.�

Hawkins knows truth when she finds it; it is a core quest for her in all aspects of life.

�Truth is hard for a lot of people,� she observes. �If your intention is to live truthfully to yourself, you are never quite sure what will happen.�

Her list of those who have moved her by their truth is eclectic: Nina Simone, Virginia Woolf, Vincent Van Gogh, Laura Nyro, and Alan Watts, interpreter of Eastern spirituality, are among them. She cites David Bowie as a powerful early influence. His sense of romance and world vision, especially on songs from his Hunky Dory and Diamond Dogs albums, combined with his gender fluidity were an entrancing combination.

There is a new Sophie B. Hawkins CD completed. One tentative title is Sweet Cantaloupe, though that is far from settled. In the meantime, four or five new songs can be heard at live performances, like Cleveland Pride on June 21, where she co-headlines with Blu Cantrell.

Tired of the confining nature of major record labels, she is seeking an independent label where the project will be �supported and really embraced.�

Most of all, Hawkins seeks a creative home where she can follow the spirit that moves her. She believes that greater commercial success often comes to those who flatten their messages, a choice she rejects.

�Why do we have to plot our courses for everyone?� she asks. �That�s not how great things happen. Great things happen by accident.�

Her unique path, though not always smooth, will likely lead the free-spirited artist to many more happy accidents.

Robin Ren�e is a freelance writer and singer-songwriter living in southern New Jersey. Her most recent CD is �All Six Senses,� and she can be reached via her web site, www.robinrenee.com. Go to Discussion Forum Top of Page

 

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