Komen CEO Nancy Brinker hosts fundraiser for gay-rights group

Nancy Brinker

Since announcing she was leaving her post as CEO, Susan G. Komen Foundation founder Nancy Brinker has been spending some of her time on other causes such as gay rights.

According to the Washington Post, Brinker hosted a reception for Lambda Legal at her home in Georgetown with her son Eric, 37, who is gay.

“Having the most supportive mom in the world, I didn’t have to twist her arm very hard to get her involved,” Eric Brinker said.

And until the Planned Parenthood controversy last year, supporting the LGBT community was apparent in Komen’s distribution of funds. When Resource Center Dallas expanded its health programming beyond AIDS and created a women’s health program, Komen provided the first grant — which was also the Dallas-based foundation’s first grant to an LGBT organization.

Between 2007 and 2011, Komen funded 30 lesbian breast-health projects around the country.

But after the Komen Foundation cut off grants to Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screenings, there was alarm in the lesbian community. Evidence suggests lesbians are more prone to breast cancer than heterosexual women and many lesbians get their health care through Planned Parenthood, which provides gynecological services to women without insurance.

The cuts to Planned Parenthood came after Brinker hired Karen Handel as senior vice president for public policy. Handel ran for governor of Georgia on a right-wing and homophobic platform. So the fear was Komen would target all lesbian health programs next.

But her son, speaking publicly of being gay for the first time, told the Washington Post that his mother had always been supportive of him.

—  David Taffet

E. Texas woman arrested for tricking friend into crazy lesbian relationship

Angela Buchanan

An East Texas woman made national headlines this week in the wake of her arrest last Monday for online impersonation after she pretended to be her doctor and advised her friend to have sex with her.

The story originally reported by The Lufkin News is convoluted and confusing, and contains an editor’s note that it “contains language that could offend some readers.”

Here’s the gist: Angela Buchanan, 30, is believed to have posed as a gynecologist and messaged her 51-year-old friend online under the name “Doc.” Under the online persona, Buchanan advised the friend that she had a pre-cancerous mass that could be delayed or cured by hormone production from sexual activity.

The women had been friends for seven years, and the friend told police she had been lesbian since she was 13 but “no longer identified with the lesbian community because she now feels it is morally wrong.”

—  Dallasvoice

UT Southwestern to hold chest wellness day for trans community next week

A Chest & Breast Wellness Day next Saturday at UT Southwestern will provide transgender men and women and masculine women an opportunity to have a comfortable environment for breast cancer screenings.

Nell Gaither, president of Trans Pride Initiative, said she planned the event so gender non-conforming individuals could have good access to healthcare without feeling uncomfortable or facing discrimination at a doctor’s office.

The event is from 7:30 a.m. to noon Oct. 20 at UT Southwestern Medical Center, 2201 Inwood Road on the third floor.  Screenings will remain open until 5 p.m. if there are enough appointments or people waiting.

Appointments can be made by calling 214-645-2526, but walk-ins will also be accepted. Gaither said people can even call the morning of the event to schedule an appointment.

Screening costs are covered for Dallas and Tarrant County residents if someone’s insurance won’t cover the cost or if someone doesn’t have insurance. Residents of other counties should call first.

We’ll have more information about Trans Pride Initiative and upcoming healthcare plans in next week’s Dallas Voice, but we wanted to get the information about the appointments out early.

—  Dallasvoice

Tig Notaro has cancer, jokes about it

We’ve written about queermedian Tig Notaro on several occasions (including here) so we were distressed to learn that she has been diagnosed with cancer in both breasts. But in a story we read on New York magazine’s Culture Vulture page, it sounds like it is less distressing for Tig — or rather, she’s found a way to deal with it that is both healing and hilarious.

Over the weekend, she did a set in New York where she tackled the news, and the accounts are that she was brilliant. Louis C.K. even claimed via Twitter that in 27 years as a standup, he’d seen few sets to rival hers.

It’s the tritest of cliches to call “laughter the best medicine,” but it sounds as though, if that’s true, Tig is in good hands.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Celebration of Love Gala raises funds for Lesbian Health Initiative

The scooter's way cuter in pink, sorry Liz

The Lesbian Health Initiative of Houston is celebrating Valentine’s Day a little early with their Celebration of Love Gala Saturday, Feb. 11. at the Double Tree Hotel downtown (400 Dallas Street). The 10th annual gala is the 20-year-old organization’s major fundraiser of the year.

This year the gala features comedienne Susanne Westenhoefer, who claims to be the “first openly-gay comedian to appear on television” (yep, she was out before Ellen).  Dorothy Weston, co-founder and CEO of The Rose (a breast cancer prevention and treatment organization) will be honored  for her years of service. In addition the evening includes dinner, dancing, a silent auction and the raffling of a pink Vitacci 50cc Retro Scooter. LHI executive director Liz James is particularly excited about the raffle even if she didn’t quite get her way on the prize. “I wanted it to be a black scooter, as I’m a bit on the butch side,” said James, adding that more “femme” forces in the organization prevailed and a pink scooter was selected instead.

Regardless of the color of the scooter, the Celebration of Love Gala promises to be a fun filled night, not just for sapphic romantics, but for anyone looking for a valentine’s date night that supports a good cause. Tickets for the black tie affair start at $100 and can be purchased at lhihouston.org. Doors open at 6 pm.

—  admin

Deaths • 01.13.12

Deaths

Henderson-obit

Perry “Bubba” Henderson

Perry “Bubba” Henderson, 46, died Jan. 2 in Mesquite, where he had lived most of his life.

Born March 13, 1965, in Tyler to Perry Lee and Vassie D. (Owens) Henderson, he was known as a gentle bear of a man with a kind and generous heart. He did volunteer work for Bryan’s House, and was a founding member of the Caring Friends Center, which provided personal hygiene items and household cleaning supples to men, women and children with HIV/AIDS and to women with breast cancer. He later served first as vice president and then president of Caring Friends Center.

He loved to visit with friends at The Round-Up Saloon, and that is where he met his partner, Cary Campbell.

Henderson was preceded in death by his father Perry Lee Henderson, sisters Patsy Hardin and Terrie Dee Alphin, his partner Cary Campbell, his best friend Richard Curry and his dog Rowdy.

He is survived by his mother, Vassie Henderson of Mesquite; sisters, Belinda Westberry and husband Tommy of Carroll Community, Debora Gaston of Mesquite and Sherrie Harris and husband Jeff of Richardson; and numerous relatives and friends.

Donations in his memory can be made to the Greg Dollgener Memorial AIDS Fund at GDMAF.org.

…………………….

Shelton-obit

James David Shelton

James David Shelton, 75, of Rancho Mirage, Calif., died Jan. 8 following a valiant three-year fight with liver cancer. His two beloved children, Maria and Raymond, were at his side when he slipped away peacefully.

Shelton was born Dec. 31, 1936, in Lubbock, the son of the late Eva Robinson Shelton and Raymond D. Shelton. He graduated from The University Of California at Berkeley in 1959 and received his masters in science at The University of North Texas in 1991.

In 1963, Shelton moved to Amarillo to work for Santa Fe Railroad. It was there that his two children were born. He was co-owner of Adams-Shelton Communications with his long-time business partner, Keith Adams, owning several radio stations in West Texas, including Z-93 and KLS. He and Adams were also publishers of Accent West magazine. Shelton served on the Northwest Texas Hospital Board of Directors, including one term as president.

His dedication to his own recovery and sharing that with others lead him to the next chapter of his life as a substance abuse and addictions counselor and interventionist. Shelton began his career in Dallas in the early 1990s, working for several treatment facilities in the North Texas area.

During this time, he also became active in the Dallas LGBT community, starting a support group for married gay men that is still in existence today.

He was a member of The Turtle Creek Chorale for several seasons and also a member of the Episcopal Church of St. Thomas the Apostle.

In 1995, he relocated to Palm Springs where he worked as counselor in various programs at The Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage for 12 years, until leaving in 2005 to form his own intervention practice. He continued to do contract work for The Betty Ford Center until shortly before his death.

Through his work, Shelton touched the lives of countless people seeking recovery from alcoholism and addiction who will be forever grateful for the change he inspired in their lives.

Just prior to his death, Shelton was made an emeritus member of The Network of Independent Interventionists in recognition of his years of dedication and service in the recovery field.

He is survived by his life partner of 17 years, Richard Burckhardt of Rancho Mirage; his daughter, Maria Lynn Shelton Dameron and son-in-law, Mark Wallace Dameron, of Centennial, Colo.; his son, Raymond Ted Shelton of Dallas; his granddaughters, Camille and Eden Dameron of Centennial, Colo.; his brothers, Bill Shelton of Aledo and John Shelton of Fort Worth; two nieces and three nephews.

A celebration of his life will be held at a later date. The family requests that donations in his memory be made to underwrite The Betty Ford Center Children’s Program operating in Dallas, Denver and Rancho Mirage. Please make checks payable to The Betty Ford Center Foundation, 41-990 Cook Street, Suite C-301, Palm Desert, Calif., 92211.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 13, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

REVIEW: Uh Huh Her Wednesday at House of Blues’ Cambridge Room

Wednesday night, Uh Huh Her rolled back into town as part of the Keep A Breast tour. They are back on the road through October as part of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Now if only they had been aware of their sound a little more.

First, let me confess that I did not stay for the entire show. That  was due in part to Uh Huh Her’s underwhelming stage presence and sound. The band attracted a healthy crowd of young ladies screaming “I Love You” to the band. But otherwise, even the audience felt a bit tepid. A long, droning intro  that felt rather indulgent played before they took the stage. When they entered from the side of the stage, they appropriately rocked out with heavy guitar play, but it wasn’t close to the synth-pop sounds of their albums. The band was strong in musicianship, but it wasn’t the sound I expected and wasn’t sure what they were going for. Are they hard rockers now?

Even as such, Leisha Hailey and Camila Grey didn’t offer a charismatic presence. Hailey looked tired and Grey never seemed into the seven songs I stayed for. Other than their first hit, “Not a Love Song” (which I caught a snippet of on the video after the jump), all other  songs just played out. There was simply no emotional punch from the band in the first part of their show.

Since I only saw the first chunk of the show,  maybe the ladies were having an off night. I mean, they have been through a lot lately. But the show was more Nuh Huh Her, if anything.

For a slideshow of the concert, click here.

—  Rich Lopez

Lesbian ‘lifestyle’ creates higher risk of breast cancer: Important info lost in sea of insensitive language

An article published today on the website “Medical News Today” explains that research indicates lesbians and bisexual women may be at a higher risk of dying of breast cancer, listing a number of factors that could lead to the increase in risk.

The No. 1 reason is that lesbians and bisexuals (spelled “bi-sexual”) women tend not to see a doctor as often, not to get routine mammograms and not to be as open and up front in talking to their doctor about their health. The article quotes Liz Margolies, executive director of the National LGBT Cancer Network, who says that lesbians and bisexual women tend not to seek medical treatment and get routine health checkups because the healthcare system is insensitive to, and sometimes even hostile to, lesbians and bisexual women.

And the MNT article makes that blatantly obvious, just in the way it is written. For example, the article — written by Rupert Shepherd, who I am willing to bet is a straight man — starts off this way: “Whilst in no way a condemnation of lifestyle choices, new research is showing that Lesbian and Bi-sexual women tend to engage in more high risk behaviors that can lead to them being more at risk from breast cancer.”

Can you guess what irritated me right away? And that’s not the only time it happens in the article. Shepherd uses the terms “lifestyle” and “sexual preference” throughout.

To be honest, the article contains a lot of very important and useful information. For instance, according to the American Cancer Society, 230,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year, and each year, an estimated 40,000 women die of breast cancer. And it includes information on things that can increase a woman’s risk of getting breast cancer — like smoking, alcohol use, obesity and not getting pregnant before age 30.

(According to the article, studies show that lesbians and bisexual women tend to smoke more, drink more, weigh more and, believe it or not, get pregnant less than straight women. So lesbians and bisexual women tend to have more risk factors for breast cancer.)

Unfortunately all that important and helpful information tends to get lost in the sea of Shepherd’s poor choices when it comes to language. And that’s really too bad.

Of course, there are options. And the National LGBT Cancer Network website looks like a really good one. So if you or someone you love has cancer or is at risk for cancer, check out this website instead. You can “create a personal cancer risk report,” “find local LGBT-friendly screening facilities,” “sign up for electronic screening reminders” and more. And on this site, if you see the word “lifestyle,” I bet it is referring to things like whether you smoke or drink, not whether or not you are LGBT. And I’m also willing to bet that the National LGBT Cancer Network isn’t going to confuse “sexual preference” with “sexual orientation,” either.

—  admin

A Bra of size

Breast cancer survivor Leslie Ezelle teams with artist George Tobolowsky to create a traveling sculpture of hope and female empowerment

THINK PINK | A huge bra sculpture will lead a ‘pinking’ trend where people can donate to Susan G. Komen.

JENNY BLOCK  | Contributing Writer
lifestyle@dallasvoice.com

Turning adversity into opportunity is the hallmark of a fighter. But using a giant bra do it? Well, that requires vision, commitment… and maybe a sense of humor.

“Cancer was not on my to-do list,” says Leslie Ezelle, HGTV Design Star contestant, former Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader and breast cancer survivor. But as anyone who has wrangled with the disease knows, cancer doesn’t care about to-do lists or anything else for that matter.

Ezelle, generally gregarious, withdrew when she got the diagnosis.

“I was a turd when I went through breast cancer, though people were fantastic the entire time,” she says. Ezelle resented it when people gave her pink things as signs of solidarity and support.

“Someone gave me a hat and I threw it like a little baby brat. I was sick of anything pink. I was having what I call my ‘titty-pity party.’ Serving bitter, party of one!”

After six surgeries and a healing process Ezelle says would have gone much more smoothly had she laid down and rested as advised, Ezelle was cured but still withdrawn. Her mom finally snapped her out of her haze, encouraging her to audition for Design Star.

She was eliminated before the finale, but that didn’t dampen her newfound love of life. After being kicked off the show, she started working with Susan G. Komen for the Cure to assuage some of her guilt about her bad patient behavior.

Enter a 14-foot high, 13-foot wide, 1950s-inspired metal bra sculpture, created by Ezelle and artist George Tobolowsky, titled “Ann-e Girl.” Named after the late sister of Ezelle’s partner, who succumbed to breast cancer, the piece, crafted from metal straps, will be hung on a metal branch signifying the “tree of life.” It will be the harbinger of “pinking” whatever location at which the bra appears, and help Ezelle in her goal to raise an additional $29,000 for Komen — in about a month.

“You can’t strap a good woman down is the theme,” Ezelle explains. “The bra will move. Wherever the bra goes, that is when the building goes pink, trailblazing through Dallas and leaving a wake of pink behind it.”

“Pinking” involves painting, lighting or decorating an area or building in pink to raise funds and awareness for the Komen fund. “Dallas is a little late to the party — pinking has been really successful in other cities,” Ezelle says.

The movement will begin with the pinking of the West Village on Pride Saturday at 5 p.m., when the sculpture will be unveiled. The event will include live performances, video presentations and tributes to the battle against breast cancer. One of the videos is of mothers with breast cancer — survivors and those who have lost the battle — and their children.

“For the music, I’ve changed some of the words to a Bob Dylan song that Adele does called ‘Make you Feel my Love,’” says Ezelle. “Now it’s basically the words a mom who died because of breast cancer would have said to her kids. Like my contact at Komen always says, ‘It’s the tearjerkers that really get people involved.’ This will be a tearjerker.”

Attendees will have the chance to register with Team Leslie for the Komen Dallas Race for the Cure on Oct. 15, and also to write something on a bra in honor of someone they love who is fighting or has lost the battle with breast cancer. The bras will be then be hung on the trees by Mi Cocina and the Magnolia moviehouse.

“Family and friends and Komen were there for me even when I didn’t want to play pink. As I’m working on this project, I’m realizing how lucky I am. I checked out emotionally but I didn’t have to totally check out. I didn’t have to die. Now that I’m drinking the pink, I get it. I understand why people are so into it. I see how great [being an activist] can make you feel and how infectious it really is.”

It’s hard to imagine where the idea for a massive, metal bra sculpture came from. But it was logical for Ezelle.

“My mom taught art and did this project with all of these bras made out of different materials,” she says. “When all of this came up, I immediately thought of that project.”

Four additional locations are already confirmed, but Ezelle hopes to add City Hall and Cowboys Stadium. The plan is to have businesses “buy” a strap on the bra for $5,000, which will enable them to have the bra on display at their location and have their company name and an additional inscription engraved on the piece.

Ezelle has already raised more than $30,000 but hopes that number will soar to $50,000 by the end of October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. After that, she will make the sculpture available to other charities that support women’s causes. “It’s a sculpture that can do a lot of good things. We need to put her to work in other ways. Maybe with the bra straps I can do that,” she says.

Because if a bra is supposed to do anything, it’s provide support.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 16, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Congress raises debt ceiling, avoids default

But agreement on spending cuts without more revenue splits Dems, worries LGBT and AIDS groups

Rep. Tammy Baldwin
Rep. Tammy Baldwin

Lisa Keen  |  Keen News Service

lisakeen@mac.com

The U.S. Senate gave final Congressional approval Tuesday, Aug. 2, to a bill raising the nation’s current $14.3 trillion debt ceiling by $2 trillion. But the bill also calls for $2 trillion in federal spending cuts, that worries LGBT and AIDS organizations concerned about the survival of safety nets and programs of specific interest to the LGBT community.

“When I hear these numbers, I worry what it will mean for the social services safety net all over the nation, including LGBT organizations that are serving the most needy in our community,” said Lorri Jean, executive director of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, the largest LGBT community center in the country.

“And when I hear talk of striking a deal that includes no new taxes, at a time when taxes are already at their lowest, it seems clear that poor and vulnerable Americans of all sexual orientations and gender identities are being sacrificed,” Jean said.

That has been the reaction of many to the debt ceiling agreement this week, including two of the four openly gay members of Congress.

The final agreement, called the Budget Control Act of 2011, raises the nation’s debt ceiling enough to enable the government to borrow the money it needs to pay its obligations through 2012. But it also requires the government to cut its deficit by that same amount — $2.1 trillion — over the next 10 years.

The legislation also places caps on discretionary spending and allows “adjustments” to those caps only for “emergency appropriations, appropriations for the global war on terrorism and appropriations for major disasters.”

Funding to fight bullying in schools, to prosecute hate-motivated crimes or to increase research to fight breast cancer or AIDS would not seem to fall in the categories allowing for adjustments.

The legislation does not specify where the cuts are to occur but rather sets up a special 12-member bipartisan joint Congressional committee to propose them. If that committee fails to identify cuts of at least $1.2 trillion by Nov. 23, then a “trigger” kicks in and across-the-board cuts are made in all programs to the tune of $1.5 trillion.

Various political analysts say the legislation is addressing the immediate, urgent need to fund the government. The debt ceiling issue has been an urgent focus of Congress and the White House for the past several weeks, with a looming threat that the government might not be able to send out checks to Social Security recipients, military personnel and creditors.

“Our country was literally on the verge of a disaster,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Tuesday, just before the Senate voted 74 to 26 on the measure.

The president signed the measure into law within hours.

But many political analysts this week were also saying the agreement’s proposed cuts in spending could stall economic recovery from the three-year-old recession. Among other things, the cuts will likely mean no efforts to relieve the 9.2 percent unemployment rate and it will mean reduced federal funding to already-strapped state and local budgets.

Although treated as a routine procedure by previous administrations — including that of Republican President George W. Bush — raising the ceiling on how much the nation can borrow to pay for its expenses became a volatile political struggle for Democratic President Barack Obama.

Republicans have largely pushed for cuts in spending, while Democrats have largely pushed for increasing revenues. Most analysts say the agreement — which identifies no increased revenues — is largely a political victory for Tea Party Republicans whose mantra is “Taxed Enough Already.”

Sen. Reid criticized Tea Party members, saying their insistence on no new taxes — also referred to as revenues — was “disconcerting.”

“The richest of the rich have contributed nothing to this,” said Reid. “The burden of what has taken place is on the middle class and the poor.”

Even the four openly gay members of the House were split on the agreement this week. Veteran Reps. Barney Frank, D-Mass., and Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., voted no, and newcomer Reps. Jared Polis, D-Colo., and David Cicilline, D-R.I., voted yes.

Baldwin issued a statement saying the bill amounts to playing “political games” that “threaten to set back our fragile economic recovery.” While the bill needs to lower the deficit, said Baldwin, it also needs to create jobs and protect the middle class “through shared sacrifice.”

Frank said he opposed the bill primarily because it did not include cuts in war spending. As for harm to funding for LGBT-related concerns, Frank said funding to enforce hate crimes and bullying programs is relatively small and unlikely to be affected, but he said cuts would hurt funding for bigger expenditures, such as research to fight breast cancer.

Cicilline issued a statement following his vote for the agreement, saying he did so “to prevent a first-ever default on our nation’s obligations, and to avoid the very real potential of an economic catastrophe.”
“To be clear,” added Cicilline, “there’s a lot about this bill I don’t like, but my prerequisite for voting in favor of this bill was that we avoid a default and we protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, which this bill does.

“There’s no question that the single biggest job killer for our country would have been a default,” said Cicilline. “In the coming months Congress must build off of this compromise legislation to pursue a balanced approach to reduce our nation’s debt and redouble our focus on putting people back to work.”

AIDS United, a coalition of hundreds of local groups working to help people with HIV and AIDS, says the agreement is not a balanced approach and does “little to remove the cloud of potential, devastating funding cuts to non-defense domestic programs, including HIV-related programs, funding to implement health care reform, and low-income safety net programs.”

AIDS United said it fears programs for people with HIV “could be affected adversely by the harsh spending caps in FY 2012 and following years.”

And groups serving LGBT youth are worried, too.

Eliza Byard, executive director of the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLESN), said she thinks it’s too early to know the specific impact.

But “there is no doubt,” she said, “that the hard spending caps created by the agreement will have a serious impact on K-12 education and youth services, effecting all LGBT youth in this country.

“Advocates for youth, LGBT and otherwise, will need to be extremely vigilant about the emerging details of the initial cuts and the further reductions to spending to be recommended by the Congressional panel,” said Byard. “As a member of the National Collaboration for Youth, the America’s Promise Alliance, and the Whole Child Initiative of ASCD, GLSEN will continue to advocate for LGBT youth in the context of protecting the interests of all children in on-going budget debates.”

R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of the national gay Republican group Log Cabin Republicans, credited Republican leaders with setting “a clear goal” and refusing to give President Obama “a blank check” for spending.

But he added, “Nobody should believe that this is more than a stopgap measure.”

“The culture of spending in Washington must fundamentally change going forward,” said Cooper. “This is only the first step in a course that will dramatically alter how our government approaches the budget and will provide fiscal stability for Wall Street and Main Street.”

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force warned last year that deficit reduction measures would almost certainly mean “key safety-net programs [would] be caught in the political crossfire….”

The Human Rights Campaign had no comment on the debt ceiling bill by deadline.

© 2011 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 5, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens