Queer locals of 2010

Twelve months isn’t all that long a time, but the impact someone can make on an entire year during any part of it can reverberate well beyond the calendar year. When we thought back on the culture in 2010, these are the 10 men and women who stood out most — for good or bad.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

Israel Luna, filmmaker, left

Kelli Ann Busey, ticked-off activist, center
The most vocal debate in the gay community about the arts that occurred on a national scale started in Dallas, as Busey, a trans woman, objected to the title of Luna’s “transploitation” revenge melodrama Ticked-Off Trannies with Knives. GLAAD got involved, protests were lodged when the film played at a festival in New York City, accusations and insults flew … it wasn’t always (ever?) pretty, but it did get people talking.

Mel Arizpe, Voice of Pride winner, right
After numerous attempts, Arizpe delighted her fans by winning VOP in August as a soloist and for a duet with her girlfriend … who herself came in second overall. Talk about keeping it all in the family.

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Jorge-Trinity

Jorge Rivas, photographer, left
Following Adam Bouska’s NOH8 photo campaign, Rivas started Faces of Life, a series of portraits of locals aimed at raising money for AIDS Arms. Like Bouska, Rivas hopes to take it nationwide.

Trinity Wheeler, theater queen, right
Wheeler hasn’t lived in Texas for a while, but when he returned to his hometown of Tyler to direct The Laramie Project, he faced vocal resistance. The play was still put on, and became a success.

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Jeffrey-Jack

Jeffrey Payne, leathermen, left

Jack Duke, leathermen, right
Payne, the outgoing International Mr. Leather of 2010, was nearly replaced by Duke, who ended up in third place overall. Payne set a high standard as IML champ, having an award named after him and starting a foundation to help the hearing impaired within the gay community. Duke has led an active role in the leather scene locally, statewide, nationally and internationally, showing the world Dallas knows leather culture — and gentlemen.

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Danielle-Harold

Danielle Girdano, cyclist, left
Girdano wanted to raise money to bring awareness to teen
suicide even before the issue made national news, so she biked from Minnesota to Dallas, pulling in just in time for the Pride parade.

Harold Steward, arts visionary, right
Steward gave the black LGBT community a shot in the arm, co-founding the Fahari Arts Institute which hosts the popular Queerly Speaking series at the South Dallas Cultural Center.

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TKO-Softball

Team TKO, softballers
Member teams of the Pegasus Slow-pitch Softball Association did gangbusters at the annual World Series in August, but none did better than the players on Uptown Vision’s TKO, who collectively won the B-
Division trophy by defeating the Long Beach Rounders in the NAGAAA tourney in Columbus, Ohio. When it comes to sports, it’s hard to beat a Texan — Tony Romo notwithstanding.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 24, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

String of anti-gay hate crimes rocks NYC

In latest incident, 7 gang members are accused of torturing 3 victims after discovering one of their recruits was gay

COLLEEN LONG | Associated Press

NEW YORK — Members of a street gang discovered one of their recruits was gay, so they attacked the teen, brutally beating and torturing him and two other people in gruesome assaults, police said Friday, Oct. 8.

Seven of the suspects were arrested and being held pending arraignment on charges of robbery, sodomy, menacing and assault as hate crimes. Two others were being sought.

The attack came amid heightened attention to anti-gay bullying following a string of suicides attributed to it last month around the country.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the first of the four assaults in the most recent case occurred at about 3:30 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 3.

The first victim, a 17-year-old potential recruit for the “Latin King Goonies” street gang, was grabbed by gang members and taken to an empty Bronx apartment they used for parties and sex, police said. The teen was stripped, beaten and sodomized with a wooden plunger handle, police said.

The attackers, apparently angry he was gay, yelled anti-gay insults and questioned him about his contact with a 30-year-old man, police said.

The teen was eventually released and told not to tell anyone. He walked to a hospital where he was treated, but he reported his injuries as due to a robbery.

Using information gleaned from their interrogation of the recruit, the attackers then descended on another 17-year-old also thought to have had a relationship with the 30-year-old, police said. Both were lured to the same apartment.

The second teen was assaulted at about 8:30 p.m. Sunday, police said. The 30-year-old arrived about an hour later with malt liquor, thinking he was going to a party. He was stripped to his underwear and tied to a chair opposite the other teen, who was forced by the angry mob to burn the man with cigarettes, police said. They beat the 30-year-old, forced him to drink copious amounts of the malt liquor he brought, and sodomized him with a small baseball bat, police said.

“These suspects employed terrible wolf-pack odds of nine-against-one, odds which revealed them as predators whose crimes were as cowardly as they were despicable,” Kelly said.

During the attack, some of the assailants went to the 30-year-old’s home, where they attacked his older brother and robbed him of $1,000, a 52-inch TV and two debit cards, police said.

The victims were eventually freed, hospitalized and treated.

The assailants scrubbed the scene top-to-bottom with bleach, even repainting the walls to make it look new, police said.

“They could clean, but they couldn’t hide,” Kelly said.

Investigators said they still found alcohol cans and hair at the scene. And an onlooker slipped a phone number to detectives, leading them to the primary suspect. The victims, initially reluctant, also started to divulge more details about the assaults, Kelly said. The Hate Crimes Task Force took over the investigation, along with Bronx robbery and gang division and special victims squad and arrested the seven men.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, the city’s highest-ranking openly gay official, called the attacks “vile” and “horrifying.”

“These attacks are appalling and are even more despicable because the victims were clearly targeted in acts of hate simply because they are gay,” Quinn said. “The cowardly few who committed these crimes do not represent New Yorkers and our community will not be cowed by such violence.”

A weekend rally on anti-gay bias was planned following other crimes against gays.

On Sunday, Oct. 3, a patron at the Stonewall Inn, a symbol of the gay rights movement since protests over a 1969 police raid there, was beaten in an anti-gay bias attack, according to prosecutors. Two suspects in the case were charged. Their attorneys say they’re not guilty.

That attack followed the Sept. 22 death of a New Jersey college student, who jumped off the George Washington Bridge after his sexual encounter with a man in his dorm room was secretly streamed online. The student’s roommate and another freshman have been charged with invasion of privacy. Authorities are considering bias-crime charges.

The attacks remain all too common, and there is still a stigma to being a lesbian, gay bisexual or trangendered person, said Sharon Stapel, executive director of the New York City Anti-Violence Project, which works to combat attacks on gays and others. That stigma leads to such attacks, and to young people feeling their only alternative is suicide.

“We have to stop thinking that it’s OK to bully LGBT people, or make fun of LGBT people,” she said.

“What we see now is the link between casual sort of comments and the real and horrific violence that results because those comments contribute to an entire culture of violence.”

—  John Wright

Donations needed for Tenn. lesbian couple who lost their home in possible anti-gay arson

“Love thy neighbor as thyself” — it is one of the most well-known verses in the Christian Bible. Now you have a chance to put that Scripture into action and help a lesbian couple in Vonore, Tenn.

The evening of Sept. 4, Carol Ann and Laura Stutte had gone into Nashville for dinner to celebrate the fifth anniversary of leaving Oklahoma to move into what they called their “dream home” just outside Vonore. But then they got the call from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office telling them their dream was going up in smoke: Their house was on fire.

As they drove up to the smoldering remains of their home, they saw the insult that had been heaped on top of injury: Someone had painted the word “Queers” in big, black letters across the white wall of their detached garage, which had not been destroyed by the fire.

The two women believe that the fire was the latest — and worst — in a string of anti-gay incidents that have plagued them since shortly after they moved into the house, things like having nails strewn across their driveway and the lug nuts on their boat trailer loosened. Plus, Carol Ann told KnoxNews.com, there were the threats and insults from a neighbor who once told them this “joke”: What’s better than a dead queer? Two dead queers.

The neighbor, Carol Ann said, had also told them she would burn their house down.

For five years, Carol Ann said she and Laura chose to just “turn the other cheek” and try to “keep the peace.” But in August, they reached a breaking point and reported the ongoing harassment and vandalism to the sheriff’s department. (Go to KnoxNews.com to see video of the two women talking about the fire.)

Sheriff Bill Bivens said his department has not determined whether the fire was a hate crime, but is definitely investigating the possibility. The Tennessee Bomb and Arson Investigative is also looking into the fire.

Carol Ann, a 47-year-old landscaper, and Laura, a 48-year-old nurse, have said they will never rebuild on that same site, and are too afraid to return to Vonore. For now, they are staying in a safe house at an undisclosed location. Carol Ann’s 26-year-old daughter, Kimberly Holloway, had been living with them at the home in Vonore. She is now staying at a separate safe house location.

For several days after the fire, the Stuttes didn’t talk to anyone about what had happened. When they finally did go public, the community responded. A special fund has been set up for them at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville (yes, that is the same church where a man opened fire during a children’s production of “Annie” back in 2008 because he was angry over the church’s liberal bent). Ben Byers with Tennessee Equality Project’s Knoxville committee said a benefit concert is planned, and the Maryville chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays is accepting contributions of clothing and toiletries for the women and dog food for their three dogs who survived the fire.

If you want to help, you can contact either the church or the PFLAG chapter. If you want to send a message of support, you can do that at the “We Support The Stutte Family” Facebook page.

—  admin