Starvoice • 09.09.11

By Jack Fertig

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAY

Jennifer Hudson turns 30 on Monday.
The Oscar winner has made headlines in the recent past mostly on her weight loss. She talks to Self magazine this month about losing over 80 pounds. This year, she returns to the big screen in Winnie, portraying Nelson Mandela’s wife, and in 2012’s The Three Stooges.

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THIS WEEK

Venus coming home to Libra normally helps us to be more gracious, social and polite. Opposing Uranus on the way in whips up some crazy ideas of what that might mean. Compassion and imagining yourself in the other’s position is usually the best way to start out.

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VIRGO Aug 23-Sep 22
You find amazing deals at estate sales, perhaps even your true love. If you already have one, bring him or her along and you find some treasure that will become an emblematic keepsake.

LIBRA Sep 23-Oct 22
You’re looking especially gorgeous. The attention you get will surprise you. Of course you’re not just a pretty face; a new contact could prove very helpful as a colleague.

SCORPIO Oct 23-Nov 21
Hiding out from the social whirl may give you peace, but doesn’t do much for your anxieties. Hum the first tune that comes to mind. That song will offer insights to face your worries.

SAGITTARIUS Nov 22-Dec 20
Party it up but don’t go overboard. Seek out new, interesting, unusual people at these events. Their perspectives can trigger new insights into your own roots.

CAPRICORN Dec 21-Jan 19
Career opportunities are looking good, but are you prepared? Know your strengths and the difference between reaching and overreaching. Work causes you to neglect issues at home.

AQUARIUS Jan 20-Feb 18
Think a little harder before opening your mouth. Does it really need to be said? Your words carry more weight than you realize. Treat them like currency and don’t waste them.

PISCES Feb 19-Mar 19
Opportunities abound as Venus is flashing her goodies in your house of illicit pleasures. She offers a deeper challenge to re-
examine your priorities and values.

ARIES Mar 20-Apr 19
You’re suddenly looking marriageable no matter what local laws allow. Let someone special see your inner wounds. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable shows confidence in both of you.

TAURUS Apr 20-May 20
A friend in need is a pain in the ass. You have your own problems. Even so, helping out your pal can not only get you out of your own problems for a bit, but help point you to a solution.

GEMINI May 21-Jun 20
Your idea of social outreach is a little outré. One on one is fine for scaring off people you don’t want to deal with, but if you’re working with a group, behave accordingly.

CANCER Jun 21-Jul 22
New recipes go better than you’d hoped for. Even if things screw up, you get points for trying. At work keep your boss up on any experiments, just in case.

LEO Jul 23-Aug 22
Advice is not necessarily appreciated, as you could find out the hard way. An earnest, soul-searching talk about sex can be more satisfying than actually doing it. Not that one rules out the other.

Jack Fertig can be reached at 415-864-8302 or Starjack.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 9, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Teacher accuses TC College of discrimination

Gill says English Department chair at Northeast Campus told her the state and the school ‘do not like homosexuals’

Jacqueline “Jackie” Gill
Jacqueline “Jackie” Gill

TAMMYE NASH  |  Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

HURST — Jacqueline “Jackie” Gill filed suit Wednesday, Sept. 7, against a professor and a dean at Northeast Campus of Tarrant County College in Hurst, claiming that she was denied the opportunity to apply for a permanent, full- time teaching position there because of the English Department chair’s bias against what he perceived her sexual orientation to be.

Tarrant County College adopted a nondiscrimination policy prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation on March 9 of this year.

Frank Griffis, director of public relations and marketing for Tarrant County College, said it “would not be appropriate” for school officials to comment on pending litigation. He also said school officials had not yet been served with papers and therefore had not read the complaint.

Gill said she had worked as a full-time temporary English professor for about a year at the Northeast Campus. But when the position was to be made permanent, English Department Chair Eric Devlin refused to allow her to apply for the permanent position.

Gill said when she complained about Devlin to Northeast Campus Humanities Division Dean Antonio R. Howell, he initially seemed to side with her, but after speaking to Devlin, Howell refused to communicate further with her. Gill said although she is a lesbian and has never tried to hide that fact, she had never talked about her orientation with Devlin or anyone else at the school.

Both Devlin and Howell are named as co-defendants in the lawsuit.

Gill is represented in the lawsuit by Lambda Legal South Central Region staff attorney Ken Upton, joined by pro bono counsel Benjamin D. Williams from the law firm of Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher.

Gill and Upton held a press conference Wednesday to announce that the lawsuit had been filed earlier that morning in U.S. district court in Fort Worth. The press conference was held at a Hurst hotel located just a few blocks from the Tarrant County College campus where Gill had taught.

According to the complaint filed Wednesday, and statements Gill made during the press conference, Gill was first hired on a full time, temporary basis as an English professor on Aug. 21, 2009. A little more than a month later, at the end of October, a female “dual-enrollment” student — a high school student who was also taking college classes — in Gill’s distance learning class cheated by stealing an exam and skipped some classes.

The student’s high school counselor told Gill that the student has a history of disruptive behavior, and when the student dropped the class, Gill was told the situation was closed.

On Nov. 9, however, Devlin called Gill into his office and told her the student had accused Gill of “flirting” with female students. Gill denied the accusations, noting that there was always another teacher in the class at the same time.

That’s when Devlin responded with “a lengthy diatribe about homosexuals and how the Texas public views them,” according to the complaint. Gill said Devlin went on to say that Texas is a conservative state and TCC is a conservative school, and that “Texas and Tarrant County College do not like homosexuals.”

Gill continued to teach at TCC, receiving high praise and compliments from students and staff alike, including from Devlin. Then in May 2010, she and other full-time temporary professors were told by Howell that all seven temporary full- time positions were being made permanent, and that they were being re-designated as adjunct faculty until the permanent positions were filled.

Gill said Howell also encouraged her and the other temporary professors to apply for the permanent jobs. Gill applied for all seven but was the only one of the seven temporary professors not hired for the permanent positions. Gill said that she was, in fact, not even allowed to interview for any of the positions, even though her experience and credentials were as good as or better than those who were hired.

Gill said she met with Howell and told him about Devlin’s anti-gay comments and refusal to allow her to interview for the permanent positions. She said Howell promised her to discuss the situation with Devlin immediately, but that he never got back in touch with her.

She said she also got no response when she tried to discuss the situation with the vice president and president of Tarrant County College.

Gill continued to teach as an adjunct professor at the campus through December 2010, although, she said, Devlin’s attitude toward her became “even more hostile.”

And she said that although she was originally assigned classes for the 2011 spring term, as she was preparing for those classes she discovered she had been removed as the professor. When she inquired about the status of the class, Gill said, she was told that Devlin had specifically instructed that those classes be taken away from her.

Upton said that Devlin and Howell violated the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution by refusing to allow Gill to apply for the permanent teaching position. He said Gill’s suit is asking that she be allowed to complete the application process and that she be compensated for the time she has been unemployed.

Gill, who is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Texas at Arlington, said she would love to get a teaching job with TCC, and while she would prefer to work at another campus, she is willing to go back to the Northeast Campus and work again in Devlin’s department.

“I worked hard. I earned it,” Gill said of the permanent position. “I have nothing to be ashamed of. If it [her working in Devlin’s department again] would be awkward for anyone, I think it would be awkward for him [Devlin] because he is the one who was in the wrong.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 9, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Dynamic duo

New partners Curtis Cook and Shane Friesenhahn shake their booty … camp

There’s the nursery rhyme that begins, “Jack Sprat could eat no fat, his wife could eat no lean… .” But apparently if Jack Sprat were in a same-sex relationship, it would be a fat-free household all the way around. Such is the case with this month’s fitness profile: Curtis Cook and Shane Friesenhahn. The lads have been together for just three months, but the real number that caught our eye was their collective body fat: 19 percent and shrinking by the day. How do they do it? Diet, exercise and rewarding a great workout with a sexy new swimsuit rather than a hot fudge sundae.

— Jef Tingley

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Names and ages: Curtis James Cook, 24, and Shane Friesenhahn, 37.

Occupations: Cook: HAMP processor at Nationstar Mortgage; Friesenhahn: owner of Silk Sculptures, a floral design studio.

Length of relationship: Three months

Sports and activities: Pool volleyball and Dr. Peay’s Booty Camp

Exercise regime: Cook: I attend Dr. Peay’s Booty Camp two days a week and go to L.A. Fitness a couple times a week. When I go to the gym, I always do abs first, then either upper body or legs followed by 15 to 20 minutes of cardio. My workout usually totals around an hour to an hour and a half.  My goal is to go to the gym on my days off of [boot camp], but it doesn’t always happen.

Friesenhahn:  [Boot camp] five days a week, which consists of cardio, Plyometrics and light resistance training.

Upcoming fitness goals: Cook: I’m lean, but I want to be toned. My goal is a slightly bigger chest and defined mid section. I also want my body fat around 8 percent; as of the beginning of July it was 12 percent. I think my goal of toning up will automatically help me reach my body fat percentage goal.

Friesenhahn: I’m currently right below 8 percent body fat, but my new goal is to boast a “lean and mean” 6.5 percent — a little bones showing never looked so good! I will say that making better nutritional choices, mostly organic, really helps.

Best “eat this, not that” tip: Friesenhahn: Well, instead of Krispy Kreme donuts or a starchy cereal, I replace it with whole fruits such as blueberries, a Pink Lady apple or grapefruit. As for my sweet tooth, I am in love with organic crunchy peanut butter with a banana or a piece of gluten free bread that has live sprouted grains. I am also an avid believer in supplements including as astaxanthin, fish oil and many others.

Workout preference: mornings or evenings? Cook: I like both. I would like to work out in the mornings more, but it is just so hard to get up that early.

Friesenhahn: Evenings mostly, but just to mix it up I do like to attend the “crack of dawn” morning workouts as well.

How do you survive an outdoor workout in the Texas heat? Friesenhahn:  My exercise group works out in the shade, unless we are running the typical mile required. Everyone brings the essentials like water and Gatorade. Sometimes [our trainer] brings ice when it’s really hot. The main thing is to read your own body and take mini breaks to regroup. Other than that, I really enjoy sweating and releasing toxins.

Favorite spot in North Texas to exercise indoors: Cook: The L.A. Fitness by my work in Lewisville, because I don’t feel like I’m being cruised the entire time.

If you could become an Olympian in any sport, what would it be and why: Cook: I’ve always wanted to do gymnastics. The parallel bars and tumbling are my favorite. I even took tumbling private [lessons] for a month when I was 20 and learned a back handspring in only four sessions.

Friesenhahn: Ice figure skating. The blend of artistry and athleticism is super challenging. I used to roller skate my long drive as a kid and pretend I was practicing for the next Olympics!

How do you reward yourself for a great work out: Friesenhahn:  Two ways. First is a trip to Yumilicious. Then on to find an even more “skimpy” swimsuit to wear at the next pool get together.

Cook: I definitely don’t eat badly afterwards because then I feel guilty and it’s as if I just negated the entire work out. I reward myself by maybe buying something a little smaller and more fitting because I know I will look good in it. I also like to go lay out in my Speedo after a good week of working out because I feel confident with my body.  Basically I reward myself by showing it off.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 26, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

HRC Celebrates Black History Month

The following is from HRC’s Editorial and Web Content Manager, Carolyn Simon:

African-American leaders are some of the strongest voices advocating for equality. And no wonder. The civil rights victories during the 1960s, led by the black civil rights movement, helped propel civil rights advancements for many communities, including the LGBT community.

There’s U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., who gave an impassioned speech on the House floor, urging his fellow representatives to “vote yes” on the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” There’s Whoopi Goldberg, a comedian, actor and a New Yorker for Marriage Equality. There’s Bishop John Selders, a founding member of HRC’s Religion Council, who speaks eloquently about the role of sexuality-based stigma in contributing to the spread of the HIV/AIDS epidemic – especially within communities of color. There are Drs. Johnnetta Cole and Michael Lomax, black educators and scholars who are unafraid to raise the issue of LGBT inclusion in black higher education. And there are Rosalyn Taylor O’Neale and Lee Daniels, who are showing our black LGBT youth that being black and being out as LGBT is a powerful way to walk in this world.

We salute and celebrate these and countless other African-American leaders – straight allies and LGBT people – each February as part of Black History Month. HRC is thankful each and every day that we can draw strength from the diversity of the LGBT community and our allies.

Some of HRC’s most important initiatives – such as the Historically Black Colleges and Universities program – demonstrate that African-American LGBT people and straight allies are critical to winning the fight for equality.

“Our sisterhood and our brotherhood – black, gay and straight alike – are found in the common hopes and dreams that we all share for full equality and freedom,” said Cuc Vu, HRC’s Chief Diversity Officer.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  David Taffet

Hero of the Month: Leonard Matlovich

Bigotry is often accomodated as a civil rights cause advances. Redundant parallel institutions like civil unions emerge and misguided policies like DADT are enacted. Sometimes the accomodations are temporary measures that can incubate further change. Sometimes they wind up perpetuating the status quo. Half-measures like these are taken because people are slow or unable to come to grips with the simple truth that equality means equality for everyone.

DADT, instituted in 1993, will go down as an accomodation that did little or nothing to advance the cause of equality. Prior to DADT, gays were formally banned from serving in the U.S. military regardless of whether they were open or closeted. DADT may have been intended to end witch hunts, provided that LGB soldiers remained closeted. But the military failed to hold up its end of the bargain, and DADT looks like a feeble attempt by a beleagured Clinton administration to save face, not a potentially useful half-measure to further civil rights.

Leonard Matlovich, the first person to challenge the ban on LGBs serving in the military, had the foresight to reject a DADT-type compromise eighteen years prior to the enactment of DADT. Matlovich was an Air Force technical sergeant who had been the recipient of a purple heart and a bronze star and taught classes on race relations. In 1973, he got in touch with gay activist Frank Kameny, who was looking for a soldier with an exemplary record to help bring a test case against the ban. Matlovich agreed to be that soldier, and in March, 1975, he came out to his commanding officer in a letter. He was promptly discharged.

Matlovich fought the discharge. In the process, he was offered an accomodation that would have allowed him to remain in the Air Force provided that he promise never to practice homosexuality again. In effect, he could remain in the service if agreed to live a lie.

Matlovich rejected the lie and became a national LGBT rights activist instead. He helped combat and the Briggs initiative in California and Anita Bryant’s attempt to overturn an anti-discrimination clause in Miami. In his day, Matlovich was as well-known as Harvey Milk, if not more so, and appeared on the cover of Time magazine. He later campaigned for adequate HIV and AIDS education and treatment, and was arrested at a protest at the White House. He himself died of complications from HIV / AIDS in 1987.

Matlovich possessed a foresight and clarity of purpose that served him and the movement well, as he demonstrated in this interview broadcast on Good Morning America in 1987. The famous inscription he created for his gravestone eloquently expresses the injustice of the military ban:

When I was in the military, they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one.

People are often slow to recognize injustice. Some always refuse to see it, while others need time and half-measures. It has taken a long time for the country to allow open service — much too long for Matlovich, unfortunately. But by sharing his clarity of vision, he helped bring it about.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

Hero of the Month: Queen Calafia

The name California comes from a sixteenth century conquistador fantasy of a formidable island inhabited by free-loving black Amazons. They were led by a brave queen:

Know th[ere] . . . exists an island called California . . . populated by black women. . . [L]ike the Amazons was their style of living. The[y] were of vigorous bodies and strong and ardent hearts and of great strength; the island itself the strongest in steep rocks and great boulders that is found in the world; their arms were all of gold . . . [W]hen they had peace with their adversaries, they intermixed . . .

There ruled on that island of California, a queen great of body, very beautiful . . ., desirous in her thoughts of achieving great things, valiant in strength, . . . Queen Calafia. (from Dora Beale Polk, The Island of California, U. of Neb. Press, 1991)

California’s founding myth derives from a siege on sexual and racial diversity. Despite the state’s reputation as a stronghold for live-and-let-live tolerance, its tolerant spirit has been contested and has suffered as many shameful defeats as victories. Whereas the state attracts people who are drawn by the promise of social freedom and possibility, it also draws those who mainly seek riches and wind up trying to domesticate and dominate the spirit that others cherish.

I like to think of Calafia as the avenging defender of sexual minorities, feminists, native peoples, blacks and sexual, ethnic and racial diversity in general. I imagine her with the suffragists when California women won the right to vote in 1911. I picture her guiding the California Supreme Court when the state was among the first to repeal its anti-miscegenation law in 1948. I see her taking over Alcatraz with Native American students and marching with Cesar Chavez. She would have been by Harvey Milk’s side when he led the defeat of the Briggs initiative, and with Gavin Newsom when he recognized same-sex unions in 2004.

Calafia has suffered a number of defeats over the years, too, of which Prop 8 is the most recent. The laws robbing Chinese of their constitutional rights and the internment of Japanese-Americans are just two examples.

This election suggests that Calafia has regrouped and might once again be on the ascendancy. November was a good month for California LGBTs, anyway. Gavin Newsom won his race for Lieutenant Governor. Barbara Boxer, one of only fourteen senators who voted against DOMA in 1996, won her senate race. Jerry Brown, the attorney general who refused to defend prop 8, won the governorship, and our new attorney general, Kamala Harris, has vowed not to defend it. Victoria Kolakowski became the first openly transgender judge in the country. Perhaps most satisfying of all, the author of prop 8, Andrew Pugno, lost his race for state assembly. These victories demonstrate that it is possible for politicians to fight for principle and win. With the Prop 8 hearings scheduled on December 6, 2010, I’m hoping that Calafia is at peak strength.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

All Eyes on LGBT Adoptive Parents During National Adoption Month

November is National Adoption Month and HRC is joining in on the celebration.  Today, HRC President Joe Solmonese traveled to Denver where he presented the first Colorado-based adoption agency, Adoption Alliance, with the All Children – All Families Seal of Recognition. The event brought media attention to the special role that LGBT adoptive parents play, and the obstacles they face.

The Adoption Alliance has long been a pioneer in working with LGBT families. The agency achieved the ten benchmarks outlined in HRC’s “All Children – All Families” Practices Guide, which offers examples of effective practices for working with LGBT foster and adoptive parents.

The Independent Adoption Center in San Francisco was also presented with the HRC Foundation’s All Children – All Families Seal of Recognition during a National Adoption Month ceremony at the Superior Court of San Francisco last week.

HRC President Joe Solmonese and Family Project Director Ellen Kahn present Seal of Recognition to Adoption Alliance Executive Director Tracey Blustein

The “All Children – All Families” initiative, launched in 2007 by the HRC Foundation Family Project, aims to promote agencies and policies that welcome LGBT foster and adoptive parents. The program seeks to enhance LGBT competence among child welfare professionals and educate LGBT people about opportunities to become foster or adoptive parents to waiting children. Thirty-four agencies from across the U.S are currently participating, and more than a dozen agencies are close to earning the seal of recognition. More information about the initiative can be found at www.hrc.org/acaf.

A comprehensive website featuring common questions and obstacles prospective parents face, tools for child welfare professionals, and an overview of state adoption laws can be found here.

Don’t forget to join us on November 30th at 4 PM EST for a live online showing of the film Gay Parents Speak (watch trailer). After the film, we are hosting a virtual panel during which experts will answer your questions on adoption. RSVP Today! Share on Facebook!


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  admin

Hero of the Month: Judge Walker

My wife and I were in Roy-Ashburn-land when we learned about the big decision last week. We had been backpacking in the Eastern Sierra and had come down from the mountains late in the afternoon to look for a room and a shower in Lone Pine, California, in a county where 60% of the voters had supported Prop 8. While my wife discussed room rates with a young motel clerk, I spotted a copy of the LA Times on the counter. The headline announced: “Ban on Gay Marriage Overturned.”

We shrieked with joy. The clerk was unaware of the decision and struggled to comprehend our excitement. It occurred to me that he, like most straight people, probably didn’t think about LGBT issues much. I thought about how indifference leads to ignorance, a condition in which fear and homophobia can take hold and thrive when they remain unexamined. Being in Ashburn’s district led me to reflect on how he nurtured homophobia there by being dishonest about his own sexuality, speaking in favor of Prop 8 and voting against every gay rights bill he encountered.

Contrast Ashburn with Judge Vaughn Walker, who called for a full airing of the fears and assumptions on which the Prop 8 campaign was based. Walker could have decided the case as an abstract matter of law on a motion for summary judgment where no evidence is evaluated. Instead, he called for a full trial and gave proponents of Prop 8 every opportunity to call witnesses and present evidence. During the trial, homophobic fears and assumptions were thoroughly and methodically exposed as unfounded

Only now, after reading Walker’s 136-page opinion, do I appreciate the import of Walker’s approach, and I have become more hopeful about the ultimate outcome. Anti-gay arguments were shown to be so devoid of evidentiary support that it will be a challenge for higher courts to find any kind of factual basis to reverse Walker’s ruling. That doesn’t mean a higher court won’t find a purely legal basis on which to do so, but if it does, it will have to disregard the evidentiary record.

The trial is also important in the court of public opinion. Facts, logic and rational argument may not sway everyone, but they do sway some people, and no open-minded person who followed the trial can credibly argue that the proponents of Prop 8 presented the better case. Oh, desperate conservatives will continue to mouth bogus arguments that such matters should be decided by popular vote, or that pro-Prop 8 witnesses were intimidated from testifying, or that Judge Walker should have disqualified himself because he is gay. But based on the trial and the evidence presented, there isn’t much room to argue that the proponents of Prop 8 were more persuasive and Walker simply got it wrong.

UPDATE: As we know now, Judge Walker lifted the stay, but it remains in effect until August 18, 2010 at 5:00 PM PDT. That gives the Ninth Circuit time to step in, unfortunately. Let’s see what they do. Judge Walker’s order is here.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright