Carolyn Wagner, a gay rights activist dedicated to fighting antigay hate
crimes and the founder of Families United Against Hate, died Monday
after a long battle against cancer and hepatitis. Advocate.com: Daily News
Because he wasn't hiding in the closet, DIDN'TYOUKNOW. Out promoting his memoir Welcome To My World this morning on Today, Johnny says he does want you to judge his book by his cover. Also, that he's "very surprised" by the reaction to his big reveal, which surprises me, because I'm pretty sure everyone out there knew this already? "I was born a white male. A white gay male. And I don’t celebrate being white or male. So why should I celebrate being gay? … I know people who have been activists for years and have worked so hard and tirelessly … and they have definitely wanted me to be an activist, but I think the best way I can be an activist is to live my life and not make that the main thing that is Johnny Weir. I'm much more than just a gay man." So true. You are Evan Lysacek's mortal enemy!
Carlos Castro — the 65-year-old Angolan-born Portuguese columnist, TV journalist, and gay activist — was found in his New York City hotel room lying face-up in a pool of his own blood — with his scrotum cut off and his bead bludgeoned, the NYDN reports. His suspected paramour Renato Seabra, the fashion and underwear model who was staying with Castro at the InterContinental, was arrested hours later after officials tracked him down at a Midtown hospital when a nurse tipped them off. Seabra, who competed on (but did not win) the Portuguese modeling reality show A Procura Do Sonho (Pursuit of a Dream), was there seeking treatment for cuts and scrapes. That's a pretty damning scenario given witnesses saw the pair arguing loudly just hours before Castro's body was found after a visiting friend — who spotted Seabra in the lobby leaving the hotel, and who had gone to dinner with the pair just days before — could not reach him in his room. The pair were in town to spend New Year's Eve in the city and catch a few Broadway shows including Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.
A 26-year-old gay man says he and a friend were the victims of a hate crime outside the bars on 4th Street in downtown Austin early Sunday morning.
Bobby Beltran said he and his friend had just left Rain, a gay bar, at about 1:30 a.m. When they hugged each other goodbye on the sidewalk, some men in a passing vehicle yelled, “Fucking faggots, stop that queer shit!”
After Beltran yelled at the men to “get out of here,” all five of them jumped out of the vehicle and attacked him and his friend. Beltran said he fought back but suffered cuts and bruises and a black eye. His friend may have suffered a broken jaw. The attackers quickly jumped back in the vehicle, which was parked in the middle of the street, and drove off.
“I’ve never in my life been in any kind of violent situation, especially a hate crime, so it’s been pretty traumatic,” Beltran said. “Austin is supposed to be a gay haven, especially on 4th Street. What scares me even more is that nobody even helped.”
Beltran, an activist who helped organize this year’s QueerBomb in Austin, said it was at least the third anti-gay hate crime in the city this year. In a high-profile case in February, two gay softball players were attacked near Austin City Hall.
“I’m just trying to get the word out there that this is going on in Austin and it’s not safe right now,” Beltran said. “I come from Brownsville, Texas. Even down there I was out since I was 13, and I never got picked on in high school. To find out that it’s here in Austin on 4th Street, and knowing that fellow gay men were not doing anything about it, is just shocking.”
Beltran said the police responded and took a report but didn’t seem too concerned about the crime and haven’t contacted him since then.
He said the attack lasted for about three minutes and was witnessed by at least 20 people, but none of them tried to help. Beltran said he yelled out the license plate of the vehicle as he ran after the attackers, but no one wrote it down and he doesn’t remember it.
“It was the most unsafe I’ve ever felt in my entire life, knowing that not even my community stood up,” Beltran said. “I’m so afraid to go back down there.”
Beltran described the five attackers as three black males, one Hispanic male and one white male. He said the vehicle was an older-model gold Chevrolet that was low to the ground and had fancy rims.
Witnesses are asked to call the Austin Police Department at 512-974-5000.
A ragtag trio of Iowa state lawmakers want to impeach the remaining four State Supreme Court justices who voted to approve the state's gay marriage laws. They're being led by Kim Pearson, an incoming House member, who says is "drafting an impeachment measure because she thinks the court exceeded its authority when it struck down a law defining marriage as being between one man and one woman." For the record, state lawmakers can only impeach sitting justices if they are guilty of crimes or malfeasance; it's that second word I'm sure Pearson will be focusing on. Pearson will need a simple majority in the House and a two-thirds majority in the Senate.
The Tuesday night, Dec. 14, meeting of Late Bloomers was a bittersweet event for Pat Stone. It marked her last meeting as leader and an active member of the organization she founded 13 years ago. But it also marked her first full steps into the next stage of her life.
Stone, who started Late Bloomers for women life herself who came out as lesbian later in life, was also one of the founding members of the Dallas chapter of Parents, Family and Friends of
Lesbians and Gays in 1992. Stone and her former husband helped start the PFLAG chapter in support of their lesbian daughter and were the driving force behind the Dallas organization in its early years.
She was president of the Dallas chapter for five years and was also on the national PFLAG board.
Then in 1997, after coming out as a lesbian herself, Stone started Late Bloomers to give other women coming out later in life a place other than nightclubs to go where they could meet other women like themselves and to learn about the LGBT community.
Stone said this week that her decision to leave Late Bloomers was, in truth, a decision to retire from her nearly 20-plus years as an activist on LGBT issues. Now, she said, she will concentrate on her life with her partner as part of a vibrant LGBT community in the Cedar Creek Lake area, her involvement with Celebration on the Lake Church, and on her painting.
“It’s been 13 years since I started Late Bloomers, and I just think the time is right to move on,” said Stone, adding that the monthly trip into Dallas for the group’s meetings from her home on Cedar Creek Lake was becoming increasingly arduous.
“I think it’s time [for Late Bloomers] to find someone local to lead the group,” she said. “I am stepping away from it for so many different reasons.”
One of those reasons, she said, is that she didn’t want to get “burned out, and I could feel that starting to happen.”
That is in due, in part, she said, to the fact that “the last couple of years were pretty rough” as she dealt with the break-up of a long-term relationship, the death of her mother and, later, the beginning of a new relationship.
“Linda [Sands] and I are living at the lake, and I think it is just time for us to concentrate on a quieter life out here with my friends. And I want to get back to my oil painting, too,” Stone said.
“I have begun doing more paintings that are geared to the elderly, researching on the types of things that older eyes can more readily pick up on, like plainer backgrounds and things like that,” she explained. “I have been in contact with the Mabank Nursing Home, where my mother lived at the end of her life, and I want to do paintings to donate there, paintings that the residents there can see better and that might make them think of all their good memories.”
Stone continued, “I will be 68 this month. That’s not ancient, but I just think it’s time to concentrate on my community here at the lake and my involvement with the church and the things I want to do now.”
Stone said the enormity of the change she is making by leaving Late Bloomers hasn’t really hit her full force yet, although she began to really see it during last Tuesday’s meeting. “There was a full house there. It was sad for me. I shed a few tears. But I was able to get through it,” she said.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 17, 2010.
She said many of those who attended Tuesday talked about how much Late Bloomers has meant to them through the years. Some recalled how scared they were to attend their first meeting, but how the members of the group have, over the years, become like family to them, and how the group has helped give a specific voice within the community to women who come out later in life.
Stone said she had been worried that the group might not continue after she left, but that her fears were allayed at this week’s meeting.
“I know things are different now than they were 13 years ago. But I sure wouldn’t say that this group isn’t needed any more,” she said. “There are still women out there who are going through this [coming out process as older women], and they need specific kinds of help. Women who come out later in life still face some very specific issues that other people don’t face.”
Stone said she was glad to hear on Tuesday that Late Bloomers members want to keep their group going, and that new leaders are already stepping up.
“They said this group meant to much to them to let it die,” she said. “So a new committee was formed to transition the group. They even met that night. They are dividing up the duties and are determined to continue. I was so proud of them and the fact that so many stepped up to the plate to save the organization.”
Among the new leaders for Late Bloomers is Linda Harwell. Anyone with questions or who wants to be involved with the group can contact her at 410-868-8244.
While there is certainly a degree of sadness that comes with the decision to turn her life in a new direction, there is also a sense of satisfaction and excitement at the adventures to come, Stone said.
“It’s been almost 20 years that I have been involved in activism, and it is hard to step away from that,” she said. “But I am happy and content that I have helped many parents of gay and lesbian kids, as well as women who have come out later in life.
“Dallas has a great gay and lesbian community, and I am just so proud to have been a part of it for all these years.”
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 17, 2010.
A photograph of Jennifer Gale is shown lying on the ground at a memorial service following her death. The broom symbolized her being swept off the streets of Austin. The service was held at the Homeless Memorial and Tree of Remembrance on the shore of Lady Bird Lake.
Two years ago tomorrow, homeless transgender woman Jennifer Gale died on the streets of Austin — from a heart attack likely caused in part by the extreme cold. Gale was a perennial political candidate who ran for Dallas mayor in 2007. She slept on the streets because the only shelter for women in Austin, run by the Salvation Army, wouldn’t house her according to her gender identity, which would have forced her to sleep and shower with men. Gale’s death prompted changes in Dallas, where the city’s homeless shelter, the Bridge, subsequently adopted a policy under which it houses people according to their gender identity. Gale was an activist and a regular speaker at City Council meetings in Austin, where she also ran for office. On the eve of her death, she stood before a City Council committee and sang “Silent Night.” This morning, the Austin City Council honored Gale by playing video of the rendition. Watch by going here and fast-forwarding to the 1:20 mark.
A Virginia federal district court judge appointed by Dubya has ruled that parts of President Obama’s health care reform plan are unconstitutional. The lawsuit was brought by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.
In a 42-page opinion issued in Richmond, Va., Judge Hudson wrote that the law’s central requirement that most Americans obtain health insurance exceeds the regulatory authority granted to Congress under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. The insurance mandate is central to the law’s mission of covering more than 30 million uninsured because insurers argue that only by requiring healthy people to have policies can they afford to treat those with expensive chronic conditions. The judge wrote that his survey of case law “yielded no reported decisions from any federal appellate courts extending the Commerce Clause or General Welfare Clause to encompass regulation of a person’s decision not to purchase a product, not withstanding its effect on interstate commerce or role in a global regulatory scheme.”
Two other district court judges have previously upheld the law and some expect the issue to reach the Supreme Court before the end of Obama’s term. Dozens of similar lawsuits are still working their way through the system.
RELATED: As in the case with the judicial overturn of DADT, the Obama administration has the option of appealing this ruling.
“As to the military chaplains, how do these pastors handle the conflict between ‘Thou shalt not kill’ and the often open and widespread killing of innocents during modern warfare? Seems to me that’s a much bigger contradiction than dealing with someone who is attracted to and/or loves someone of the same gender.”
— Katie Sherrod, progressive Episcopalian activist from Fort Worth, in response to a question from The Dallas Morning News about how military chaplains who believe homosexuality is sinful should deal with the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
C.d. Kirven protests cautiously during her probationary period
“I’m very excited to be free!” said activist C.d. Kirven.
Kirven was arrested and later received probation for participating in a GetEqual sit-in at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Washington offices in March. When her six months of probation ended on Oct. 7, all charges were dropped.
“According to [the] ENDA 4 attorney yesterday, charges dropped and record clean,” Kirven said in an e-mail.
Four activists were arrested in Pelosi’s office protesting the speaker’s failure to bring the Employment Non-Discrimination Act up for a vote in the House. Two of the protesters who live in Washington, D.C. received community service along with their probation.
While on probation, Kirven had to be careful not to get arrested. That didn’t stop her from staging other protests, but she said she’s been careful. Now that her probation is over, she said she won’t tone it down.
“So, I’m planning my next direct action but it won’t be like before,” she said.
Since that time, she and fellow Dallas activist Michael Robinson, who was arrested at the same time in Pelosi’s San Francisco office, have formed their own direct action group, Get Equal Now.