Kiss-in seeks domestic partner benefits for U of H

Pucker up!

Valentine’s Day is next Tuesday, while some battle the supermarket crowds for chocolate and champagne and others battle  that soul-sucking feeling that they will be alone forever, students at the University of Houston will be battling for equal benefits for LGBT employees.

“Our LGBT faculty and staff at the University of Houston are not given the same benefits as their heterosexual counterparts,” says James Lee, one of the student organizers. “This rally is an issue campaign to let administration know we care about our professors, directors and advisers and we think they all deserve to be treated equally.”

Lee explains that the event is not just for same-sex couples, the organizers want opposite-sex couples to participate to help demonstrate that straight and LGBT relationships are the same.  Got no one to kiss? No problem, says Lee, “We will have rally signs and other goodies you can show support with.”

The smooch-fest kicks off at 12:30 pm in Butler Plaza (in front of the MD Anderson Library).

—  admin

BACH for the holidays …. and beyond

Volunteer Wanda Brown helps get ready for the Breakfast at Cathedral of Hope on Chirstmas Eve

I have been out of the office, on vacation, since Dec. 22, and when I got back to work today and started wading through the thousands of emails in my inbox, I found one from Hank Henley, asking if we could include some information in Dallas Voice about BACH, the weekly Breakfast At Cathedral of Hope program in which church volunteers prepare and serve breakfast to the homeless.

So I am including Hank’s write-up about BACH’s Christmas Eve event here on Instant Tea, just as he sent it to me:

Use the words “Bach” and “cathedral” in a sentence this time of year, and most people will picture the “Christmas Cantata” or “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.” But at a certain church in Dallas, BACH stands for “Breakfast at the Cathedral of Hope,” a program that just celebrated its four-year anniversary in November. On Christmas Eve morning, while most of Dallas was nestled all snug in their beds, a small army of volunteers was in the kitchen at the Cathedral of Hope whipping up a hot and hearty breakfast for the homeless and needy that would be coming through their doors by 7:30 a.m. Under the direction of Rev. William Baldridge, Associate Pastor for Community Outreach, this weekly breakfast has grown from serving just 11 guests at the first meal to an average of 200 guests each Saturday morning.

And guests they are: receiving a hot meal served on china plates and with silverware and glasses. The guests may also receive a haircut after they eat, if they so chose.

This week, in addition to the usual food and drink, each guest received a bag with a blanket, hat, gloves, toiletries, water and food coupons. The gift bags were the result of the generous work of Jan Okerlund and Leslie Frye.

Leslie Frye, one of the volunteer coordinators, when asked how the volunteers feel about the work they do, said, “The real blessing is in the cooking for and serving those less fortunate, not only during this Season, but all year long.”

This Saturday’s volunteers included members of the church community of the Cathedral of Hope, members of the Turtle Creek Chorale and a group of 14 students from “I-CERV,” the “Ismaili Community Engaged in Responsible Volunteering.” They are here once a month, all year long. Kenneth Campbell, the Interfaith Services Director Volunteer Coordinator of the Memnosyne Foundation, brought these energetic and focused youth.

The Memnosyne Foundation is a wonderful organization whose mission is “to help a diverse people of the world consciously encourage an evolution of themselves and for future generations by providing the means to encourage positive, peaceful global collaboration.” The diverse crowd of leaders, volunteers and guests were certainly doing that on this morning.

And one guest, who guest shared his story quietly and privately with tears streaming down his face, personifies the spirit of sharing and giving. This time last year, he was on the street, living under a bridge and depending on the generosity of others to survive. He told me he could always count on a hot meal and being treated with respect when he came to BACH. This year, he is able to draw social security and is donating $25 a month to BACH. “They always fed me and helped me get through. Now I want to give back whatever I can. God blessed me and it’s what I want to do.”

Across the room, his hands deep in a bucket of soapy water, volunteer Jamie Rawson, spent the morning scraping plates and glasses, getting them ready for the dishwashers.

“There a few things a person can do which so clearly put Christmastime in perspective as doing something to help others. It is has been said so often as to become a cliché — but it is no less true for being a cliché. It is heart-warming to see so many people gathered to help provide for those in need. It is especially affirming to see so many young people from such a diversity of backgrounds. This has been the most fitting and rewarding way to truly start my Christmas.”

When the guests were finished with breakfast, finished visiting with friends and volunteers, finished with their haircut, and picked up their bag of supplies for warmth and comfort, they left the cathedral and headed back into the rain and the street.

As they left, Richard Boule greeted each of them and wished them a Merry Christmas.

“As I watched those people leaving the Cathedral after breakfast this morning, I could not help wondering where they were going and what each one of them had to look forward to this Christmas time. But I had the feeling that they were grateful for the humanity they were shown, so many left with a smile. May they be blessed.”

If you would like to help with BACH, please call Rev. Baldridge at the Cathedral of Hope at 214-351-1901.

You can see more photos from the Christmas Eve Breakfast at Cathedral of Hope after the jump.

—  admin

Do you Peru?

Even as fans rallied to help Coco Peru get her next film off the ground, the drag goddess still likes her comedy live


RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer

Expect a lovefest when Coco Peru comes back to Dallas for Pride weekend. With memories of a responsive audience, shopping and beef jerky during her last go-round here nearly two years ago, the drag goddess is hoping for a repeat performance. Sort of. She’s back on the road with a new show, but that’s not all the legendary queen has going on.

“Well, we’ve filmed Girls Will Be Girls 2 already,” Peru (aka Clinton Leupp) says. “Right now the writer/director is busily editing. It’s just one of those things: You film it and hope for the best.”

Peru has garnered a significant amount of film work over the years, usually with notable cameos in films like as Trick, but occasionally as the star, as with Girls Will Be Girls. But she admits live performance is where she’s at her best.

“I like to think my show is like watching a theater piece,” she says. “I love film acting, but it’s exciting on a whole other level. There’s not that energy of a live audience and no feedback. So often, comic timing is how the audience is reacting to you. With acting, you mentally feel it out, try it and mostly trust the director. I find sometimes I rehearsed a line so much in my head, it takes me a few times to take direction on it.”

For Girls 2, Peru discovered just how much her fans appreciated her work. As a micro-mini indie, the film went on the website Kickstarter to raise funds. As word got out that the film was in production and that Peru was in it, the money rolled in.

“The movie was completely funded by fans,” she exclaims. “It was just incredible that they would want to pay money! And I must say, most of it came from my fans. I’m just putting that out there.”

Along with funds from Kickstarter, the crew itself was almost all-volunteer. People would just show up, willing to help out. It turned into an actual labor of love.

Along with donated help, the production even received a donated green screen. All the generosity reminded Peru that people are that genuinely kind and that it’s all right to ask for things, which usually embarrasses her. She saw this particular filmmaking experience as a good lesson on many levels.

“Let’s just hope the movie’s funny,” she laughs.

Dating back to the “early ‘90s” — that’s as specific as her website will get — Peru gives much credit to her fans along the way for the success of her career. Even if they come up to once again mention her role in the film Trick, Peru takes none of it for granted. Perhaps it’s cliché for any type of celebrity to appreciate their fans, but she  talks at length about how her fans have kept her driven.

“It’s so overwhelming, whether it’s a movie or my own shows, that they will take time to contact me to tell me whatever it is they are feeling,” she says. “I feel lucky and blessed when they reach out to me and I strive to answer every email. I remember those days that felt so lonely and sad. Growing up gay and feeling rejected doesn’t make a happy life. But when you get over 800 birthday messages on Facebook, it’s amazing!”

She’ll meet a new slew of fans on her current End of Summer Tour, as she’ll visit Tampa and Las Vegas for the first time as a performer. Even with her experience onstage, Peru is still daunted by a new audience, the same way she was before playing Dallas the first time early last year.

“The first time, I was nervous and I didn’t know what to expect,” she recalls. “I felt that audiences came wanting to have a great time. You go to certain cities and they have a bit of an edge, but in Texas, it was an immediate love fest on both ends.”

In her new show, There Comes a Time, Peru talks about getting older and reminiscing about her life. Fortunately, Dallas isn’t a punch line in her monologue. The city left a good impression on her and she only hopes to make another one of her own.

“Well, I’m happy to be coming back and they took such good care of me last time,” she says, “but I don’t wanna jinx myself. You never know.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 2, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

On Feeling A Little More Human

cross-posted at Daily Kos.

It's not over.

Don't Ask, Don't Tell is not quite dead. Not yet. But today was the critical blow to it. All that remains is for it to thrash its way into that dark night where the past injustices and disgrace of this country go to die. And that will happen soon.

Today was an amazing day. I was privileged to be in the audience at the DADT repeal Presidential signing ceremony. I am eternally grateful to Alex Nicholson and Jarrod Chlapowski of Servicemembers United for making that happen.

By far, the most personally important moment for me came after the ceremony was over. I actually managed to stop ADM Mullen on his way out. I shook his hand, identified myself by name and rank, and told him who I represented today. I told him about Beloved, about the Servicemembers United Military Partners group, and how much today means to the LGB military families. He thanked me for my service, and for the service and sacrifice of everyone in the Partners group. Then he looked me in the eye and said, “This will happen quickly.”

I'm not quite ready to believe President Obama when he said that implementation would be done “swiftly and efficiently.” But I absolutely trust my Admiral when he tells me how it's going to be. No questions.

More under the fold.

It means a lot to me, this bill, and not just because this is a major marker on the road to equality for LGBT people. For so many years our government has told us, “You are expendable. You are nothing.” It is still legal at the Federal level to deny us housing. It is still legal at the Federal level to deny us jobs. It is still legal at the Federal level to deny us marriage and families. It is still legal at the Federal level to deny us equal immigration rights.

But soon, it will be illegal to deny us LGBs the honor of serving our country.

When the House and Senate voted for DADT repeal, they didn't just vote for civil rights, or for equality. They spoke out in a voice that cannot but be understood, and they said, “Your lives matter. You are just as American, just as human, as we are, and you are welcomed among us.”

It is a liberating feeling to be freed of the burden of mandatory secrecy and shame. It is an affirming feeling to be welcomed. I cannot help but think of the people I know and love who have suffered under this law, myself included, and I wonder how this will change all of us. I can only imagine the growth and blossoming that will happen. As my friend Dave said today, “We've all internalized this so much. It's not just everyone else's attitudes that will change, but our own attitudes about ourselves.” He's right.

For myself, I am feeling a bit more human than I did a week ago.

There is much work still to be done, particularly for our trans brothers and sisters. This law does nothing to help them, yet they were there alongside us LGBs, working and pushing and sacrificing. We must not fail. We dare not fail. It's not just our rights we are fighting for. It's our lives, and the lives of our families.

And today, we celebrate as our lives matter a little more.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

Watch: ‘I Have a Feeling We’re Not in Kansas Anymore’


Rich Juzwiak at FourFour, who should get a special Oscar for his assemblages of clips, takes on Judy Garland's famous line with this supercut.

He writes

"What's interesting to me about that is that it's at cliche status at this point, yet unlike, say, 'catch-22' or the also frequently mangled 'You're going to need a bigger boat,' the saying hasn't superseded its source, no matter how many times it's been said (as evident in the amount of times Toto and Dorothy are brought up alongside it). It's pretty amazing how tenacious a hold Oz still has on pop culture (I find myself referencing it constantly, and not just in the 'Kansas' way)."


Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

Feeling Like I Voted For Those Who Will Contribute To My Peers & My Oppression

The oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class are to represent and repress them.

~Karl Marx

This election more than ever, I felt as if I were voting for those who would repress my peers and me. It’s not that I didn’t vote for a few local candidates I was pleased to vote for, but I also felt there were Democratic candidates I voted for that I didn’t get my vote because I was happy to vote for them, but instead because I felt they would repress me less than the Republican candidate running against them.

Examples of candidates I was pleased to vote for were Toni Atkins for my State Assemblywoman, and Steven Whitburn as my local County Supervisor. Back in 2003, when Atkins was a City Councilwoman, she introduced the proposed ordinance that actually did change San Diego’s Human Dignity Ordinance to provide citywide employment protections based on gender identity. Whitburn was active in San Diego’s Democratic Club, working to see that ordinance passed into law.

I was less thrilled to vote for my Congresswoman, Susan A. Davis. It’s not that she isn’t strongly for civil rights for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community — she gave a speech on the House for in support of transgender civil rights:

But that said, she belongs to the political party for the past two years — the 111th Congress — that had control of the House, but couldn’t seem to get a fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) out of House committee.

The same with my Senator, Barbara Boxer. Her prior statements on marriage equality leave me believing LGBT civil rights aren’t something she embraces as a value, but embraces the freedom, equality, and justice for LGBT people to the extent she perceives donors and voters embrace these. And probably more importantly, Boxer belongs to the political party for the past two years had control of the Senate, but couldn’t seem to get a fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) out of Senate committee.

Nationally, San Diego’s Democratic candidates for federal seats are good on the rhetoric on LGBT issues, but functionally, the Democratic Party they belong to has been ineffectual in turning rhetoric into law.

Of course, in the House, we’ll no longer have the problem of a Democratic majority that failed to live up to their 2008 campaign promises to the LGBT community made in their national platform. Thumbnail Link: 2008 Democratic Party PlatformAnd, we’ll have a Senate that still has a Democratic majority, but a much smaller majority — and with the current filibuster rules in place, we should have the continuation of total gridlock.

Oh. Back to local elections for the moment, when I voted for a candidate for San Diego’s County Recorder, either candidate I voted for is going to carry out the current court stay that still limits marriage in California to be “between one man and one woman.” I’m not planning to get married, but others in my LGBT community would like to get married and can’t, due to the Proposition 8, and stays of enforcing the ruling that said the law is unconstitutional. So whoever I voted for in that election, the candidate is going to be required by law and court ruling to be a representative of an oppressing class — an oppressing class member who’s going to both represent and repress my LGBT community peers.

Democracy gives every man the right to be his own oppressor.”

~James Russell Lowell

Yesterday, I voted — I voted as I feel an active and concerned American citizen should vote, but I’m feeling a bit melancholy about some of my votes. I feel that I had the opportunity to vote for some members of the oppressing class that are going to represent and repress my LGBT peers and me; I feel I was given the opportunity to be my own oppressor. Hoo-rah.

How about you?
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

Watch: Someone Instructed Phil Davidson to Say it With Feeling


And his insane stump speech, for Ohio's Stark County Treasure, won't soon be forgotten

It did not, however, win him the nomination.


Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright