Spectrum rides the Hill Country this weekend

Spectrum members bikes’ parked on Cedar Springs.

This weekend, Spectrum Motorcycle Riders Club of Dallas will join other Texas LGBT motorcycle clubs for a Pride Ride through the Hill Country near San Antonio.

“We were honored to receive the invitation from our sister group in Houston to participate in a ride through the Texas hill country,” Spectrum-MRC President Jerry Garner said.

Spectrum will join Montrose Motorcycle Riding Club and Austin Freedom Riders.

“This event will allow Spectrum to meet with other like-minded GLBT motorcycle groups and view some beautiful Texas landscape,” said Garner.

The ride takes place Sept. 9 through 11.

Spectrum Motorcycle Riding Club is an organization for GLBT and GLBT-friendly riders. All types of motorcyclists and their passengers are welcome, as well as those who have an interest in learning to ride. The group was founded in 2004 and received not-for-profit status this July. Garner said that this would allow the group to raise money to support the LGBT community.

Spectrum will be the lead entry for the 2011 Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade on Sept. 18. Riding with Spectrum will be Neil Patel from Logo’s new show, The A List: Dallas.

For more info, email jerry@jerrygarner.info.

—  David Taffet

PHOTOS, VIDEO: Dedication of memorial garden for LGBT crime victims in Houston’s Montrose

Photo by Brandon Wolf (via Montrose Memorial Garden on Facebook)

The Houston Press reports:

Last night, throngs of people bearing candles filled an empty parking lot in Montrose, just off the main gay bar drag of Pacific Street. A block or two from here, Paul Broussard was murdered in 1991. Aaron Scheerhoorn was stabbed to death outside a nearby nightclub just half a year ago.

The list of GLBT-identified victims slain in this area is long: at least 35 since 1979, according to a list compiled by the Aaron Scheerhoorn Foundation for Change. Last night, politicians, GLBT allies, and parents and friends of murdered children gathered to remember them.

Charles Armstrong, owner of four gay nightclubs in the area and controversial subject of our cover story “Mayor of Montrose,” provided a landscaped corner of his parking lot for the Montrose Remembrance Garden. There, a Texas lilac tree of the “Montrose purple” variety was planted by Scheerhoorn’s foundation in memory of all victims.

Instant Tea contributor Daniel Williams reports at his Legislative Queery blog that speakers at the dedication included Texas Sens. John Whitmire, Mario Gallegos and Rodney Ellis, and State Rep. Garnet Coleman:

All four spoke at length about the decade long fight that led Texas to pass hate crimes legislation in 2001, and about the anti-bullying and teen suicide prevention bills passed this session by the legislature. Only Garnet Coleman mentioned Texas’ hate crimes statute still excludes the transgender community (an omission he has tried to correct).

Watch video from the dedication below. To view more photos, go here.

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Wedding bash continues in NY; Houston LGBT memorial; El Paso benefits fight

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. Hundreds of gay couples tied the knot on Sunday in New York on the first day same-sex marriage was legal in the nation’s third-largest state. The festivities continue today with, among other things, the first group wedding involving about 50 same-sex couples at Niagara Falls — which was also the site of some of the first weddings early Sunday. The first couple to marry in Manhattan, according to the Associated Press, was 77-year-old Phyllis Siegel and 85-year-old Connie Kopelov, shown above, who’ve been together 23 years. From The AP: Witnesses cheered and wiped away tears after the two women vowed to honor and cherish each other as spouses and then kissed. “I am breathless. I almost couldn’t breathe,” Siegel said after the ceremony. “It’s mind-boggling. The fact that it’s happening to us — that we are finally legal and can do this like everyone else.” Outside afterward, Siegel raised her arms exultantly as Kopelov, in the wheelchair, held out a marriage certificate. Watch video from the first day of same-sex marriages in New York below.

2. A memorial to honor victims of anti-LGBT violence will open this week in the heart of Houston’s Montrose gayborhood, Culture Map Houston reports. The garden’s roots stretch as far back as the 1991 hate crime murder of gay banker Paul Broussard, whose killer was recently granted parole. “This garden is about recognizing our community and how fragile each one of us is,” says Sally Huffer of the Montrose Counseling Center. “When one person disappears, it leaves a void.”

3. A straight El Paso woman is fighting an anti-gay group’s efforts to recall Mayor John Cook and two council members for voting in favor of restoring domestic partner benefits for city employees. As we reported last week, the group led by anti-gay Pastor Tom Brown filed its notice of intent to recall the mayor and two council members on July 18. On Thursday, Jodi Casey began her campaign against Brown’s group by asking people to switch their Facebook profile pictures to the image at right. Casey is also considering forming a political action committee to organize a rally in support of the elected officials. “There’s so much negativity by these supposed Christians,” Casey told The El Paso Times. “They’re giving Christians everywhere a bad name.”

—  John Wright

WATCH: Broussard’s killer again up for parole

Here we go again.

Jon Buice, the only one of 10 suspects who’s still behind bars for the legendary 1991 hate-crime murder of Paul Broussard in Houston, is up for parole for the fifth time in the last decade.

And Nancy Rodriguez, Broussard’s mother, has again traveled to Texas from her home in Georgia to testify against Buice, who stabbed Broussard to death outside a Montrose nightclub almost exactly 20 years ago.

And Ray Hill, a longtime Houston gay-rights activist who helped solve Broussard’s murder, is again ironically arguing that it’s time for Buice to be released.

This time, however, Rodriguez reportedly has some new ammunition — evidence of 10 disciplinary cases filed against Buice while he’s been in prison, including an inappropriate relationship with a female chaplain.

“We have more ammunition than I’ve ever dreamed of,” said crime victims’ advocate Andy Kahan. “It’s almost like the parole gods looked upon us and said, ‘Here’s a gift.'”

Mom on Son’s Killer: Don’t Let Him Out: MyFoxHOUSTON.com

—  John Wright

Montrose bar patron attacked with baseball bat

A man leaving a bar in Houston’s heavily gay Montrose area was badly beaten by a suspect wielding a baseball bat last weekend. OutSmart reports that the 46-year-old victim, who asked not to be identified, suffered two broken arms, numerous bruises, and a head wound that required 14 staples to close. The suspect remains at large, and the victim said there was another similar beating in the area about a month ago. Police aren’t currently treating last weekend’s incident as a hate crime but say their investigation remains open. From OutSmart:

The attack, which occurred on Sunday night near the corner of Crocker St. and Fargo St., was witnessed by several people. …

“He didn’t say anything, he just put his bat in his hand and had this look in his eyes like, ‘I’m gonna kill you,’ ” said the man, who wanted to remain anonymous. “He started swinging and I started running.” …

The victim, who remains at home and is estimated to take six weeks to two months to recover, said he knows of at least one other similar attack which occurred in the same area about a month ago.

“He’s out there at night waiting for someone to come walking down the street after the bar closes,” he said, “and he’ll jump out and hit them.”

—  John Wright

Killer who preyed on Montrose gays set to die

Derrick Jackson (TDCJ)

Derrick Jackson is scheduled to be put to death on Tuesday, July 20 for fatally slashing, stabbing and bludgeoning two Houston opera singers in 1988.

Jackson was a predator who preyed on patrons of gay bars in the Montrose area, and one of the victims, Forrest Henderson, had picked him up at one.

“He just picked up the wrong person and brought him back to the house,” Houston homicide Sgt. D.D. Shirley said after Jackson’s arrest.

On the night of the murder Henderson and the other victim, Richard Alan Wrotenbery, attended a rehearsal of Bizet’s Carmen. Wrontenbury, a first-grade music teacher who’d just been through a divorce, was staying with Henderson until he could find another place to live. After the rehearsal, Wrotenbury returned to the apartment while Henderson went to the bars.

Henderson was found naked and face down in his bed. He had been stabbed repeatedly. Wrotenbury was found in another bedroom with his throat slashed. Both had been bludgeoned with a heavy metal bar.

A day later Police spotted someone driving Henderson’s stolen car, and a chase ensued. The driver got away, and it wasn’t until seven years later that investigators used new fingerprint technology to identify Jackson, who was already in prison for aggravated robbery.

Jackson, who maintains his innocence, would become the 15th person executed to death in Texas this year.

—  John Wright

WATCH: Houston councilwoman 'brought to tears' after being accused of hating gays

OK, I admit it, I’m sick and tired of the other major cities in Texas getting all the fun gay stories this week. First there was the big hubbub over Austin Pride, and now a Houston city councilwoman has been brought to tears after she was accused of hating gay people. How great is that?!

Actually, despite the headline from Fox 26, I didn’t really see any tears in the video. And Fox’s story is wrong too: Councilwoman Wanda Adams didn’t vote against funding a facility that provides housing for people with HIV/AIDS. She instead chose to leave chambers so she didn’t have to vote, which to me is actually worse. (Maybe Adams was just afraid that if she stayed, gay Councilwoman Sue Lovell would tell her to shut it.)

According to the Houston GLBT Political Caucus, Adams represents both the Sunnyvale area, which has the highest concentration of HIV in Houston, and Montrose, the city’s gayborhood. Adams also used to employ Kris Banks, who’s now the president of GLBT Political Caucus.

Like I said, it’s good stuff.

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—  John Wright

Houston's gayborhood, Montrose, honored as one of nation's best neighborhoods

(Houston Chronicle)
Shoppers on Westheimer. (The Houston Chronicle)

Score one for Houston’s gays. The city’s gayborhood, Montrose, is being honored today as one of the country’s 10 great neighborhoods by the American Planning Association, according to The Houston Chronicle. The story says that long before it became the gayborhood, Montrose was an elite master-planned suburb. The Chronicle also notes that Montrose has been the setting for several important chapters in the city’s history, including the 1991 hate crime murder of gay banker Paul Broussard. But ultimately the stark contrast between Montrose and the rest of Houston may have been the clincher.

David Morley, a research associate at the American Planning Association, said Montrose’s pedestrian-friendly nature was an important factor in the award.

“It’s one of the few places in Houston where people get out of their cars and walk around,” Morley said.

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—  John Wright