Vikings settle with Kluwe, agree to donate to LGBT charities

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Chris Kluwe

The Minnesota Vikings professional football team have reached an agreement with former punter Chris Kluwe in which the team officials have agreed to donate an undisclosed sum of money to five LGBT rights-related charities over the next five years, according to Associated Press reports, including this one from West Hawaii Today. Two of those charities are The Matthew Shepard Foundation and You Can Play Project.

Kluwe said he gets no money in the settlement agreement.

Kluwe had threatened to sue the team, saying he was unfairly released by the team last year because of his outspoken support for marriage equality. He also claimed that special teams coordinator Michael Priefer made anti-gay comments and tried to agitate him with homophobic language. The Vikings last month issued a 29-page report summarizing their investigation into Kluwe’s claims, saying they found no merit in his claim that he was unfairly released from the team. The report did acknowledge that Priefer did make anti-gay comments. He was suspended for three games and ordered  to undergo sensitivity training.

Kluwe’s attorney, Clayton Halunen, said that the amount of money the Vikings will be donating won’t be disclosed due to a confidentiality agreement. But, he said, it represents “a substantial commitment to LGBT causes.”

Kluwe said, “This will help a lot of people that really do need that help,” adding that he is convinced the Vikings and owners Zygi and Mark Wilf are committed to the cause, and committed to being leaders on this issue in the NFL.

The Vikings said in a statement that the deal resolves all issues related to Kluwe’s departure from the team and his accusations that a coach made anti-gay comments. Zygi Wilf said he wished Kluwe the best and that the team’s “focus remains on maintaining a culture of tolerance, inclusion and respect, and creating the best workplace environment for our players, coaches and staff.”

—  Tammye Nash

Images from Butte ’11: Gay Ski Week

Dallas-based Straight Out Media has spent more than a year helping to launch the Matthew Shepard Foundation Gay Ski Week, the first of its kind in Crested Butte, Colo. The even kicked off last Saturday, with events continuing through this weekend. The event is actually a fundraiser for the Shepard foundation.

This is spring skiing season — the resort actually closes the lifts on April 3 — so it’s pretty warm at the base, and you even see  people in shorts on the slopes sometime. But it’s still beautiful.

I came back early, missing the Purple Party and a pool party, but still enjoyed the Al Johnson skiing event and learning how to snowboard. Here are some images of the location and some of the fun I had there.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

The gay ski week fraternity adds its newest member: Shoot the Butte

amedia-photosARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor
jones@dallasvoice.com

Aspen has been holding a Gay Ski Week so long, the Village People weren’t considered a nostalgia act yet — they were still on the pop charts. But everyone has to start somewhere. Which is how the newest entry in the gay ski week fraternity got going.

Shoot the Butte, which runs March 19 through March 26 in Crested Butte, Colo., isn’t starting small, either. The inaugural week-long event, designed for queer skiers and snowboarders, serves both as one big party and as a fundraiser for the Matthew Shepard Foundation. In fact, among the scheduled events is a staged reading of The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later, the acclaimed play about the murder of Shepard in neighboring Wyoming more than 11 years ago.

Among the other activities are daily “hookups” (meet-ups with other skiers), an apres-ski tubing party, “Martini Monday,” the Splash Pool Party (yes, you can swim in the mountains if you know where to go for the heated lanes) and a closing-night party with O.A.R. and DJ Logic. And if you book for at least four nights in the host resort, you get a complimentary “GayCard” that admits you into all the authorized events. There’s nothing like turning a little downhill fun into a worthwhile benefit.

For more information, visit MatthewShepardGaySkiWeek.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 11, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Queering up the slopes

A new gay ski event joins winter wonderlands already catering to gay sportsmen (and chill partiers)

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor jones@dallasvoice.com

SHOOT THE BUTTE | Crested Butte, Colo., is home to two gay winter events next year: OutBoard and the inaugural Matthew Shepard Gay Ski Week.

The landscape of gay ski weeks is changing faster than the view from a waxed Telemark swooshing down a double black diamond.

The African-American-centric Winter Explosion enjoyed its last slalom earlier this year, but there’s a new gay ski week founded in conjunction with the Matthew Shepard Foundation — and it’s closer by! And some of the big ones changed their dates in a big way.

Of course, there are many more reachable resorts that don’t have gay ski weeks per se (read about some next week in the Voice), but here are the ones that plan entire weeks around getting queer skiers (and just people who like to cuddle up in the lodge with a furry fellow) to hit their slopes.

Utah Gay & Lesbian Ski Week, Park City, Utah. Jan. 5–9. The season kicks off, as always, in the home of the Sundance Film Festival. Gayskiing.org.

Aspen Gay & Lesbian Ski Week, Aspen, Colo. Jan. 16–23. The 34th annual granddaddy of gay ski weeks brands itself the Wild Wild West this year, and all we have to say is, yee-haw! Dallas-based comedian Paul J. Williams returns to host the Drag Downhill comedy night and performs with Emmy winner Leslie Jordan. GaySkiWeek.com.

Winter Rendezvous XXV, Stowe, Vt. Jan. 19–23. For those who prefer the powder of the Northeast,  Winter Rendezvous returns to the home of U.S.-based gay marriage — Vermont — for its 27th outing. Comedienne Shawn Pelofsky, who recently stopped by the Rose Room, headlines. Winterrendezvous.com.

WinterPride, Whistler, British Columbia, Canada. Jan. 30–Feb. 6. Earlier this year, WinterPride got bumped later in the season because of the Winter Olympics (a fair trade — one town can only handle so much gay at one time), but it’s back to early in the season for the 19th annual party where Queernadians are joined by their Anglo-Gringo supports across the border for this skier and snowboarder party. DJs like hot bear Ted Eiel keep the fun going. GayWhistler.com.

Telluride Gay Ski Week, Telluride, Colo. Feb. 26–March 6. Named the U.S.A.’s top gay ski week by Gay.com, the Mountain Village event is back with T-11. Returning to the party are The A-List’s Reichen Lehmkuhl, who will hosting the pool party Wet, and dragcomedy legends the Kinsey Sicks. (Big  news for the Dallas-based traveler: A new nonstop direct flight on American from DFW to Montrose/Telluride Airport.) TellurideGaySkiWeek.com.

Lake Tahoe WinterFest Gay & Lesbian Ski Week, Lake Tahoe, Nev. March 6–12. Organizers insist WinterFest XVI is on the calendar for the first weekend in March, though no details have been released yet. LakeTahoeWinterfest.com.

Mammoth Gay Ski Week, Mammoth Lakes, Calif. March 16–20. Not that boarders aren’t welcome everywhere, but for the biggest gay ski event in California, you just know they are gonna turn out in droves. The 9th annual event kicks off with DJ Josh Peace (who also hosts The Party @ 10,000 Feet) and yummy DJ Escape spinning at the Avalanche party. MammothGaySki.com.

Shoot the Butte (Matthew Shepard Gay Ski Week), Crested Butte, Colo. March 19–26. The newcomer to this year’s ski family is both an ambitious party and a benefit for the murdered teen’s foundation. Reichen pulls double duty (here and in Telluride) with an appearance, and there will be daily skier “hook ups” (meet-and-mixers), a pub crawl and several late dance parties. Be the first to check out this one.  MatthewShepardGaySkiWeek.com.

OutBoard Gay and Lesbian Snowboard Week, Crested Butte, Colo. March 29–April 3. If you like Shoot the Butte, why not just hang around a few days — OutBoard begins just three days later. (In the last three years, it has moved from Crested Butte to Steamboat Springs to Breckenridge and back again to CB this year). You don’t need to snowboard, either — there are ice-skating and wall climbing adventures to be had as well. OutBoard.org.

Vail Gay Ski Week, Vail, Colo. March 30–April 3. Vail, which this year had its event in late January, bumped it two months into the late winter, capping off the gay ski season. This version brings back the Vail Splash Club hot tub and pool party as well as the beer bust and daily après ski socials. VailGaySkiWeek.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 26, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Judy Shepard statement on gay-bullying suicides

There’s a national conference call under way as we write this to coordinate vigils in honor of the four gay-bullying suicides of the last three weeks. Since we’re not taking part in the call, we figured we’d share this statement that just came across from Judy Shepard. We’ll update you on any plans for local vigils as soon as they’re announced. Shepard is, of course, the mother of hate crime victim Matthew Shepard, who was murdered in Wyoming in 1998. Here’s her statement:

Judy Shepard: We Must All Protect Youth from Suicide

Our family, and the staff and board at the Matthew Shepard Foundation, are all deeply saddened by the devastating report of at least the fourth gay or gay-perceived teen to commit suicide in this country in the last month.

Reports say that Tyler Clementi, 18, leapt to his death from the George Washington Bridge near his New Jersey college campus after a roommate allegedly broadcast him in a same-sex encounter behind closed doors in his dorm room, and apparently invited others, via Twitter, to view it online. Regardless of his roommate’s alleged tweet, Tyler had apparently made no statement about his own sexual orientation. I’m sure we will all learn more about this terrible tragedy as legal proceedings unfold, but the contempt and disregard behind such an invasion of privacy seems clear. In the meantime, we send our thoughts and prayers to Tyler’s family as they mourn their loss.

In the last month there has been a shocking series of teen suicides linked to bullying, taunting, and general disrespect regarding sexual orientation, in every corner of America. Just a few days ago, Seth Walsh, a 13-year-old in Tehachapi, Calif., passed away after 10 days on life support after he hanged himself. Police say he had been mercilessly taunted by fellow students over his perceived sexual orientation.

Billy Lucas, 15, hanged himself a few weeks ago at his Indiana home after years of reported harassment by students who judged him to be gay. Asher Brown, a 13-year-old in Harris, TX, who had recently come out, took his life with a gun after, his parents say, their efforts to alert school officials to ongoing bullying were not acted upon.

Many Americans also learned this week about Tyler Wilson, an 11-year-old boy in Ohio who decided to join a cheerleading squad that had been all-female. As a gymnast, he was interested in the athletic elements of cheering. He was taunted with homophobic remarks and had his arm broken by two schoolmates who apparently assumed him to be gay. He told “Good Morning America” that since returning to school, he’s been threatened with having his other arm broken, too.

Our young people deserve better than to go to schools where they are treated this way. We have to make schools a safe place for our youth to prepare for their futures, not be confronted with threats, intimidation or routine disrespect.

Quite simply, we are calling one more time for all Americans to stand up and speak out against taunting, invasion of privacy, violence and discrimination against these youth by their peers, and asking everyone in a position of authority in their schools and communities to step forward and provide safe spaces and support services for LGBT youth or those who are simply targeted for discrimination because others assume they are gay. There can never be enough love and acceptance for these young people as they seek to live openly as their true selves and find their role in society.

Suicide is a complicated problem and it is too easy to casually blame it on a single factor in a young person’s life, but it is clear that mistreatment by others has a tremendously negative effect on a young person’s sense of self worth and colors how he or she sees the world around them. Parents, educators and peers in the community need to be vigilant to the warning signs of suicide and other self-destructive behaviors in the young people in their lives, and help them find resources to be healthy and productive. We urge any LGBT youth contemplating suicide to immediately reach out to The Trevor Project, day or night, at (866) 4-U-TREVOR [866-488-7386].

Judy Shepard
President, Matthew Shepard Foundation Board of Directors
September 29, 2010

—  John Wright

Beals' 'L Word Book' of love

Actress Jennifer Beals set many a lesbian heart a-flutter during her six years playing the role of Bette Porter on Showtime’s lesbian drama “The L Word.”

The series ended last year, but Beals is putting the power of the show’s appeal to its fans — not to mention her appeal to the fans — to raise some money for the causes she cares about. One of those causes is The Matthew Shepard Foundation, dedicated to erasing anti-LGBT hatred.

This is from a letter from Beals explaining her book:

Jennifer Beals
Jennifer Beals

“Years ago, I started a tradition of making of making a photo book, to give as a gift to the cast and crew, after completing projects that were near and dear to my heart. As I started working on my cast-and-crew present for The L Word, I realized this wouldn’t be like the others. The L Word was about the power of storytelling. And it was particularly unique because there were two streams of stories being told. Clearly we were telling your stories, but in some way we were telling our stories — the story of a group of colleagues who became friends while endeavoring to make something worthwhile. Somewhere along the line there was a kind of convergence. Somewhere underneath the plotlines of The L Word ran our own stories of friendship and struggle. These photographs evoke the various bonds and battles we as a cast endured.

“The L Word as a series was, at its core, about community and that played out behind the scenes as the cast formed its own community. But the series also was about all of you who made our collective journey possible. That is why I wanted to make the book available to fans of the show.”

Proceeds will also benefit Mia Kershner’s I Live Here Project which is a project of Operation USA, and The Pablove Foundation, which helps children with cancer.

So if you want to keep the ‘L Word’ experience alive and donate to some great causes, go here to buy a copy of “The L Word Book.”

—  admin