SXSW 2012 gets off to a proper queer start (updated)

Austin turns into a frenzy as South by Southwest kicks off Friday introducing crowds to a wealth of films, multimedia, live music and not enough showers to go around for everyone. As I researched the festival’s schedule and created my own of (fingers-crossed) all the LGBT-related events, I noticed how tomorrow starts a big ol’ gay weekend for SXSW.

I’ve excerpted my schedule below up until Monday. You’ll see the panels and discussions, but two films also help open the festival. Friday, the documentary Wildness screens the first of four scheduled times through the fest and the short film Liar makes its world premiere on Saturday followed by two additional screenings. From SXSW.com.

Rooted in the tropical underground of Los Angeles nightlife, Wildness is a portrait of the Silver Platter, a historic bar that has been home to Latin/LGBT immigrant communities since 1963. With a magical-realist flourish the bar itself becomes a character, narrating what happens when a weekly party called Wildness explodes into creativity and conflict. What does “safe space” mean? Who needs it? And how does it differ among us? At the Silver Platter, the search for answers creates coalitions across generations.

(Liar) After 14 year-old Tara’s boyfriend comes out to her and ends their relationship, she can’t help feeling confused and angry with him. But when Tara’s older sister and her friend become convinced that Brian was lying about being gay, Tara gets drawn into a revenge mission that she’s not even sure she believes in. When the girls catch up with Brian and their plan takes an unexpectedly violent turn, Tara is forced to choose between standing helplessly on the sidelines or stepping in to defend the boyfriend that hurt her.

Find the trailer for Liar here, but watch this clip from Wildness along with the queer-interest weekend skedge for SXSW’s opening weekend after the jump.

—  Rich Lopez

Will black Obama supporters defeat marriage equality in states like Maryland in November?

President Barack Obama

The Maryland Senate voted 25-22 today to legalize same-sex marriage, and the bill now heads to the desk of Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley, who will sign it. However, the new law won’t take effect until January, which allows opponents to put a referendum on the ballot in November if they can gather 55,736 signatures.

Meanwhile, in Maine, the secretary of state has confirmed enough valid signatures from same-sex marriage supporters to get the issue on the November ballot. In 2009, Maine voters rejected marriage equality by 53 percent to 47 percent, but polls show a majority now support it.

In any case, it now appears almost certain that marriage equality will be on the ballot in at least a handful of states this year. And gay activist John Aravosis at Americablog says that’s why it’s critical for President Barack Obama to hurry up and complete his evolution on the issue:

The President obviously wants us all to get out the vote in November. But there are key constituencies with whom the President has great sway, and who are not terribly good on gay rights issues as compared to other Democrats. Why does that matter?  Well, take Maryland.  Maryland will likely see an effort on the November ballot to repeal the just-passed marriage equality legislation.  Nearly a third of Marylanders are African-American.  And black Democrats in Maryland are twice as opposed to same-sex marriage as white Democrats in the state.

—  John Wright

Oklahoma House panel hears bill to reinstate ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ for state’s National Guard

Rep. Mike Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City

Oklahoma State Rep. Sally Kern once called gays a bigger to America threat than terrorists, and Oklahoma certainly wouldn’t want terrorists in its National Guard. So according to Kern’s logic, that must mean the state shouldn’t allow gays and lesbians in its National Guard, either.

In January, State Rep. Mike Reynolds introduced a bill that would allow anyone eligible to serve in the military on Jan. 1, 2009 — 20 days before Barack Obama was inaugurated as president — to serve in the Oklahoma National Guard.

The bill would put the state at odds with military policy — which has allowed gays to serve openly since the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” last year.

Last week, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis wrote to Gen. Craig R. McKinley, the National Guard Bureau Chief, and asked him to come out against the bill.

“If a state National Guard ‘fails to comply with a requirement of this title, or a regulation prescribed under this title, the National Guard of that State is barred, in whole or in part, as the President may prescribe, from receiving money or any other aid, benefit, or privilege authorized by law,’” Sarvis warned McKinley.

In other words, if Reynolds’ bill passes, Oklahoma could lose $300 million from the federal government.

Sarvis also wondered what will happen to service personnel in the Oklahoma Guard who have come out since the repeal of DADT.

“Would those who have come out since the repeal of DADT be discharged?” he asked. “And if the Oklahoma National Guard mobilizes into federal service, will gay and lesbian guard members from Oklahoma be allowed to serve openly while deployed in accordance with DOD and National Guard Bureau policy, only to be demobilized and discharged under Oklahoma’s DADT law?”

The Oklahoma Daily weighed in with its opinion: “A ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ rule for Oklahoma National Guard is wasteful and disrespectful to guardsmen.” John Aravosis of AmericaBlog has a different idea — call their bluff and let them hang themselves.

The Oklahoma House Veteran and Military Affairs Committee is scheduled to hear arguments about the bill this afternoon, according to the Oklahoma LGBT group The Equality Network.

UPDATE: Oklahoma Sen. Al McAffrey reports that the bill has been sent to a different committee where it will die.

“The bill reinstating Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in the Oklahoma National Guard is dead!” McAffrey wrote. “It was pulled from the Veterans Committee and reassigned to the Rules Committee, where the Chairman will not hear the bill. It’s good for our state that this bad piece of legislation will not proceed.”

—  David Taffet

AmericaBLOG Gay’s Joe Sudbay Interview With GetEQUAL’s Robin McGehee

Joe Sudbay, of AmericaBLOG Gay, interviewed GetEQUAL’s Robin McGehee about her meeting at the White House. The interview was posted in the piece GetEQUAL’s Robin McGehee discusses her meeting at the White House. In an over 17-minute long interview, Robin explains in detail what she told White House Staffer Brian Bond in her November 17th meeting. Here is Joe Sudbay’s interview, presented in two parts:


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I’ve set up Facebook Fan pages for AMERICAblog Gay & AMERICAblog

AMERICAblog Gay Facebook Fan Page: facebook.com/AMERICAblogGay

AMERICAblog Facebook Fan Page: facebook.com/AMERICAblog

They’re more than “fan” pages, and in fact Facebook doesn’t even call them that anymore. In the case of a blog, they’re an another online venue in which we can gather and organize our readers. They also help us better share our writing around the Web. With Facebook, it’s ridiculously easy for you to indicate that you like, or recommend, a particular blog post (just click the “like” button below the title of the post on this page, or on the Facebook fan page, click the “like” button beneath the post itself. By clicking like, there will then be a short mention in your Facebook feed that you “liked” that particular blog post, helping us spread the article to others. There’s a lot more we can do as well.

So, if the spirit moves you, please use the box at the top of the next column to the right to indicate that you “like” the blog (or go over to AMERICAblog and do the same with its Facebook Fan box at the top of the page). Then when you see a particular blog post that you think should get larger distribution, click the “like” button. It’s that easy.

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—  John Wright