Metro offers free bus rides on New Years Eve

Maybe there is such a thing as a free ride. Houston Metro is offering free bus and train fares starting at 6 pm New Years Eve and continuing through 6 am on New Years Day. Metro explains via press release that it “wants to help individuals celebrating the arrival of the New Year a safe option to get home rather than getting behind the wheel.”

As a bonus, the light rail is free on Sunday since it’s a game day, so if you are downtown and need to go to Reliant stadium, or at Reliant and need to go downtown, you’re set.

So when midnight rolls around on the 31st and it’s time to head home remember you have options. A DWI is a horrible way to start the new year.

—  admin

Gary Floyd, then and now

Gary Lynn Floyd killed a few birds with one stone last night. First, he helped celebrate the Interfaith Peace Chapel’s one-year anniversary. Second, he shot footage for his upcoming reality series slot on Troubadour, TX. Most importantly, though, he reminded us all why we love listening to him sing.

His concert Sunday night, which also served as a release party for his new CD Then+Now, featured Gary on piano, voice miked, singing solo: Songs from his long career, some from his days in Christian music (including his only No. 1 hit as a songwriter), moving up to his current output. He joked that people may still detect a bit of the church in his voice; ain’t that the truth. Listening to Gary is sort of like your own private sermon — he seemed to be connecting directly with me as he sang. (Of course, I was sitting behind his mother, so maybe he was just singing to her.)  But I bet all of the 80 or so attendees felt that same connection. That’s what good singing is all about.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Overcoming fear and finding passion

Landon Starnes had to step outside his comfort zone to compete as Lotta Pink in the Miss LifeWalk Pageant

lotta1
Landon Starnes as Lotta Pink

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

Talk to Landon Starnes about his involvement with LifeWalk, the annual walkathon benefiting AIDS Arms and its partner agencies, and you’ll hear

Starnes repeat the words “passion” and “fear” a lot.

Starnes said he let fear rule him for too long. But in the end, there’s no doubt that “passion” wins out.

Starnes, who works as a hairdresser, said that he was diagnosed with HIV in October 1998. But he wasn’t prepared to deal with reality, and so for years, he said, “I ignored my diagnosis emotionally.”

But then some friends began to encourage him to confront his HIV status by getting involved in LifeWalk, specifically by joining the Guys and Dolls LifeWalk team.

Starnes said it took him awhile to get up to speed, and he was involved with LifeWalk just “off and on” for several years. But three years ago, he decided to really take the plunge and has been an active member of the Guys and Dolls team ever since.

This year, even that got ratcheted up a notch when Starnes finally gave in to his teammates’ cajoling and entered the Miss LifeWalk Pageant.

“My team had been asking me for two years to enter the pageant, but I declined every time. I was just scared to death to do drag,” Starnes explained. “But this year, I decided to accept the challenge, even though it scared me.”

The first challenge was to come up with a character, so “I started brainstorming about a character, about who I would be,” Starnes said. “I started thinking about things I, as a person, am passionate about. And I am passionate about the singer Pink.

“Her music gets to me in a way that no one else’s does,” Starned continued. “Her lyrics inspire me. I think, if I had to pick just one, my favorite Pink song is ‘Glitter in the Air.’ It says, ‘Have you ever wished for an endless night?’ ‘Have you ever thrown a fistful of glitter in the air?’ It made me look into myself, literally. Last summer, while we were on a road trip, my friends and I stopped and actually threw a fistful of glitter in the air. It was silly and fun, and now it is a memory that will last forever.”

But there is one line in the song, Starnes said, that really touched him, one lyric that made him think and gave him the determination to set aside the fear that had held him back: “Have you ever looked fear in the face, and said, I just don’t care?”

It was, Starnes said, a spark that made his passion for LifeWalk and for doing something to help others blaze even brighter.

“I knew I wasn’t going to try to be Pink, but I love what she does. So I decided I would kind of pay tribute to her with my character,” Starnes said.

And so, Lotta Pink was born.

And lo and behold, Lotta Pink won the Miss LifeWalk title on her first try, helping Starnes bring in about $7,000 for LifeWalk this year, bringing his total over all his Guys and Dolls years to about $11,000.

Starnes said he and Lotta Pink obviously have a lot in common. “We share our passion for the cause, first of all, and second, we both want to step outside the box,” Starnes said. “I was afraid of doing drag. But my favorite quote is ‘Do it scared,’ so that’s what I did. I stepped outside the box and challenged myself, and in doing that, I learned that fears are just fears, nothing else.”

Starnes said that while his fears still remain to some degree, Lotta Pink “has no fear,” and she is helping him overcome his own.

“It’s easier when you can put on a wig and some makeup and kind of step outside yourself,” Starnes said. “Now, learning to step out without that disguise is what comes next!”

Knowing that what he does is all to help AIDS Arms and the clients the agency serves makes it even easier to put the fear aside, Starnes said.

“The Guys and Dolls team works all year, not just on the day of LifeWalk. And the people at AIDS Arms work all year trying to help other people. I love AIDS Arms, and I love what it stands for,” Starnes said. “The walk itself is symbolic, to me. It’s a short walk, yes, but just going through the movement of walking allows you to release your passion.

“Everybody who participates is there for their own reasons, but whatever the reason, they are passionate about it,” he continued. “That alone speaks volumes. The biggest thing that came out of all this for me was seeing how good people really are.”

Again, it all comes down to overcoming fear and fully realizing the passion.

“It’s so important for everyone to find their passion, whether it’s LifeWalk or something else,” Starnes said. “Finding my passion has lifted me to a whole new level of awareness, understanding and joy. It’s just such a positive energy when you are around all these people at LifeWalk who work so hard to make a difference in other people’s lives. It’s helped me find a happiness I have never known before.”

AIDS Arms LifeWalk will be held Sunday, Oct. 2, at Lee Park. Registration begins at 11:30 a.m., and the walk begins at 1 p.m. For more information, go online to LifeWalk.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 23, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Deborah Vial and Jane Doe tonight at HOB

Homecoming queen
VialThis week’s cover story focuses on the reunion of Jane Doe, but let’s not forget that it’s a big night for Deborah Vial too. The singer returns to Dallas to host the CD release of Stages and Stones. It’s gonna be like a vintage night out at Sue Ellen’s in the ’90s but like huge. Yeah. They’re even playing the big room at HOB.

DEETS: House of Blues, 2200 N. Lamar St. 7:30 p.m. $10. HouseOfBlues.com.

—  Rich Lopez

UPDATE: Police release description of missing vehicle belonging to NE Dallas murder victim

Earlier we told you about the two men found dead in a burned Northeast Dallas apartment. Police are still not releasing the victims’ names because their bodies were so badly damaged in the fire that they’re waiting on the medical examiner to positively identify them. However, police have now released a description of the vehicle belonging to one of the victims, which is apparently missing. The vehicle is a silver, four-door 2002 Saturn L200, with a license number of 5CVDN. If you see it, call 911.

Again, police have confirmed that they believe the two victims were a gay couple, but they aren’t treating the murders as a hate crime. Police also say they don’t know the motive for the crime, prompting some to question how a hate crime can be ruled out. We posed this question to DPD Sr. Cpl. Kevin Janse:

“Detectives will not elaborate at this time,” Janse told Instant Tea. “It may hamper the investigation.”

—  John Wright

Astronomers Release Photo of ‘Strangely Alive’ Green Gas Blob

Blob

Yesterday afternoon, Hubble astronomers released a new photo of a blob of gas was discovered by a Dutch school teacher in 2007 named Hanny's Voorwerp. They said it is "strangely alive" and giving birth to new stars in an area of space where stars don't usually form.

The AP:

Parts of the green blob are collapsing and the resulting pressure from that is creating the stars. The stellar nurseries are outside of a normal galaxy, which is usually where stars live.

That makes these "very lonely newborn stars" that are "in the middle of nowhere," said Bill Keel, the University of Alabama astronomer who examined the blob. The blob is the size of our own Milky Way galaxy and it is 650 million light years away. Each light year is about 6 trillion miles.

Draw your own conclusions.


Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

Press Release: Transgender American Veterans Association Salutes the Repeal Vote of DADT

Transgender veterans have served in the United States military services, and are even now serving in the United States military services. Thumbnail Link: Transgender American Veterans Association (TAVA)However, they serve in the closet; the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) doesn’t result in transgender veterans soon being able to serve openly.

TAVA (TAVA) has a press release out on the congressional votes to repeal DADT. In the press release, the vice-president of the Transgender American Veterans Association (TAVA), Angela Brightfeather, said this in the press release:

It should be recognized that DADT has never included directives concerning Transgender people serving in the military. Therefore, there was no call from Transgender Americans to equally serve in the military of their country, without persecution and discrimination. However, Transgender people who have and still do serve under the same pre-DADT conditions, still find it necessary to lie and hide who they are, contrary to the best traditions of the military.

She then goes on to add:

We now press our GLB brothers and sisters to finish the job and help provide the means for Transgender people to be able to serve their country openly and equally as do all Americans.

Well.

We’re going to have a few months to a year of preps to implement repeal — for as y’all may not remember, now the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff must sign off on lesbian, gay, and bisexual being able to serve openly. With that signing off, policies will need to be set in place for lesbian, gay, and bisexual servicemembers’ open service — such as antidiscrimination policies and servicemember benefits. Basically, the implementation of the repeal of DADT will no doubt keep the DADT focused LGBT organizations busy for quite a number of months.

But that said the question for those organizations focus their missions after the sign-off and policies are set in place will be one of “What are you going to do towards transgender servicemembers being able to serve openly?”

Will these organizations be willing to take on a seventeen-ish year slog towards allowing transgender servicemembers being able to serve openly as they took on a seventeen year slog for lesbian, gay, and bisexual servicemembers being able to serve openly? And probably more importantily, will these organizations be able to raise sufficient funds from the LGBT community members to take on the long and costly for the T people of the LGBT community?

Those are good question. But, I’m for letting the DADT focused LGBT organizations focus during the upcoming months on DADT implementation. Legislation or policy that would allow transgender people to serve openly isn’t at the top of most trans people’s agendas — most would rather prioritize a fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) over legislation to allow transgender people to serve in the military services openly — but the DADT focused LGBT organizations are going to have to address the question of transgender servicemembers being able to serve openly at a point in the not too distant future.

The TAVA press release:

Transgender American Veterans Association Salutes the Repeal Vote of DADT

Contact: Monica Helms: president@tavausa.org

Denny Meyer: media@tavausa.org / (718) 849-5665

We are proud of our democracy that Congress passed this monumental repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Even though transgender people are still going to be separated from military service, Transgender American Veterans Association salutes this passage. We who have served our nation proudly now anticipate our own progress to freedom and equality.

Monica Helms, President of TAVA said, “For 17 years the US has made their gay lesbian and bisexual service members second class citizens and caused them to have to lie about who they are and who they love. No longer will that be the case. We now turn our attention to allowing transgender people to serve openly.”

“It should be recognized that DADT has never included directives concerning Transgender people serving in the military.” Angela Brightfeather, TAVA’s Vice President stated, “Therefore, there was no call from Transgender Americans to equally serve in the military of their country, without persecution and discrimination. However, Transgender people who have and still do serve under the same pre-DADT conditions, still find it necessary to lie and hide who they are, contrary to the best traditions of the military. We now press our GLB brothers and sisters to finish the job and help provide the means for Transgender people to be able to serve their country openly and equally as do all Americans.”

Many of America’s allied nations have long since allowed open transgender service along with the service of those with alternate sexual orientation. The next frontier is for the United States is to progress to full and complete inclusion of the right to serve our nation. It is TAVA’s expectation that now that DADT has been repealed that all those involved in achieving the repeal will now turn their attention to help transgender Americans also be able serve openly.

- 30 -

Founded in 2003, the Transgender American Veterans Association (TAVA) is a 501 (c) 3 organization that acts proactively with other concerned civil rights and human rights organizations to ensure that transgender veterans will receive appropriate care for their medical conditions in accordance with the Veterans Health Administration’s Customer Service Standards promise to “treat you with courtesy and dignity . . . as the first class citizen that you are.” Further, TAVA will help in educating the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) and the Department of Defense (DoD) on issues regarding fair and equal treatment of transgender individuals. Also, TAVA will help the general transgender community when deemed appropriate and within the IRS guidelines.

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

Thursday DADT Repeal Open Thread: Calls to Action and Press Release

This is going to be continually updated and rough to start… much patience will be required!  

~Louise

According to the ever-wise, all-knowing and very dear friend of the Blend Joe Sudbay, Maine Senator Susan Collins and her office follow Twitter feeds VERY closely.

So we’re embarking on an impromptu campaign to wake up the Maine media, who for the most part are NOT paying attention to either DADT repeal or the key role Collins now finds herself in the process, and to flood the senator’s Twitterfeed. EqualityMaine has already started tweeting messages this morning as well, which I have shared.

@SenatorSnowe EQME tweeting- NOW to repeal DADT Sen Susan Collins (202) 224-2523 Sen Olympia Snowe (202) 224-5344 #dadt

@SenatorCollins EQME tweeting- NOW to repeal DADT Sen Susan Collins (202) 224-2523 Sen Olympia Snowe (202) 224-5344 #dadt #mepolitics

Who’s with us? Here’s what we need to do:


1. Message her @SenatorCollins or retweet.

2. Use hashtags #DADT and #mepolitics. The second not as necessary, but I know she and her staff follow both and it will then land in the feeds of mainy more Mainers, including media.

3. Follow her http://twitter.com/#!/SenatorC…

Thanks so much!

First Update (9:30am) Ex-Senator Sam Nunn now supports DADT repeal.

Seventeen years after leading the fight in Congress against gays in the military, former Democratic senator Sam Nunn says he thinks gays could serve openly without damaging the armed forces’ ability to fight.

In an interview this week, Nunn told the Associated Press that the law known as “don’t ask, don’t tell” should be overturned as long as there is enough time to prepare the troops for the change. He said the Pentagon should be given at least a year before the repeal takes effect to ensure operations in Afghanistan aren’t affected.

“Society has changed, and the military has changed,” the former senator from Georgia said.

Press releases wilol be below the fold…
Press release from IAVA


Senate Must Pass Defense Bill Supporting Troops, Military Families This Year

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Critical Provisions to Address Invisible Wounds, Military Sexual Trauma Included

NEW YORK – Today, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the country’s first and largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, called on the Senate to swiftly pass the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).  Although “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has dominated the national discussion, and it is undoubtedly important, it is only one part of the vital Defense Bill. This broad legislation also includes provisions to expand mental health care resources, address Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Military Sexual Trauma (MST), extend the stop loss deadline and improve the electronic sharing of health records between the DoD and the VA.

“Most of America thinks there is an up or down vote on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ Missing from the national discussion is the fact that DADT is one of dozens of important provisions included in a Defense Bill that will have a historic impact on our troops and veterans. While the country is fighting two wars, passing funding for our troops  should be a no-brainer. We cannot allow personal politics to get in the way of supporting our service members. If Congress fails to pass the Defense Bill, it will be the first time in 48 years. That’s not a precedent this Administration or Congress wants to set,” said IAVA Founder and Executive Director Paul Rieckhoff.  

“Our troops can’t afford to wait until next year for vital Pentagon funding. One in three troops are coming home today with invisible wounds like Traumatic Brain Injury, one in seven female veterans are screening positive for Military Sexual Trauma and thousands of service members are losing their medical records as they transition from the DoD to the VA health care systems. IAVA urges the Senate to pass this critical legislation this year and ensure our troops aren’t left waiting for live saving resources.”

In addition to a provision for the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy (see IAVA’s full statement supporting repeal here ), key provisions contained in the NDAA address the following urgent issues:

?    Expanding the number of DoD mental health providers. There is a chronic shortage of mental health providers in the military. With rates of mental health injuries and suicide rising higher every month, the DoD is in desperate need of providers to help service members identify and combat invisible wounds. This bill provides education incentives to recruit both civilian and military mental health care providers. (Senate ?703)

?    Mandatory pre- and post-deployment TBI assessments. Although TBI is the signature wound of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the DoD has never adequately developed a comprehensive screening program.  NDAA will require the DoD to do pre-deployment assessments to compare to post-deployment assessments after a potential injury. (House ?722)

?    Eradicating Military Sexual Trauma. NDAA contains 29 recommendations of the Joint Task Force on Sexual Assault in the Military, including modernizing the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the creation of a sexual assault reporting hot line.  (House ?1601-1664)

?    DoD/VA record sharing.  In 2009, the DoD and VA began to work on a joint electronic lifetime record that follows a service member from enlistment to the grave.  There have been concerns that the record sharing between the DoD and VA could violate the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).  NDAA would change HIPAA to allow records to migrate between the DoD and the VA. (Senate ?715, House ?532)

?    Military pay raise and bonuses. NDAA provides a 1.9% pay increase for all service members and the extension of a host of recruitment and retention bonuses set to expire. (House ?601)

Because of these provisions and a number of others, passage of the NDAA this year is broadly supported. IAVA is a member of The Military Coalition (TMC), a consortium of 32 nationally prominent military and veterans organizations representing more than 5.5 million current and former service members, their families and survivors. The TMC recently urged the passage of NDAA in a letter to Senator Reid and Senator McConnell here .

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America www.IAVA.org is the country’s first and largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and has more than 200,000 Member Veterans and civilian supporters nationwide. Its mission is to improve the lives of this country’s newest generation of veterans and their families.

###

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

Pentagon to Release the Fabled DADT “Study” a Day Early

SECDEF Robert Gates has decided to release that DADT “study” to Congress on November 30 instead of December 1st, citing a need to accomodate the Senate Armed Services Committee's desire for time to review and hold hearings on the contents. From the Armed Forces Press Service:

SANTA CRUZ, Bolivia, Nov. 21, 2010 – The report of a working group he created to research the ramifications for the Defense Department if the law banning gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the military is repealed will be released to Congress and the public Nov. 30, Defense Department officials announced here today.

Gates formed the working group in February, appointing Gen. Carter F. Ham, commander of U.S. Army Europe, and Jeh C. Johnson, DOD’s general counsel, to lead the effort.

“Secretary Gates is pushing all involved in the Comprehensive Review Working Group's report to have it ready for public release on Nov. 30 in order to accommodate the desire of the Senate Armed Services Committee to hold hearings as soon as possible,” Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said. “Frankly, Dec. 1 was already an aggressive deadline by which to complete the report, incorporate the views of service secretaries and chiefs and for the secretary to make a recommendation on the way ahead, but he has further compressed the timeline in order to support Congress' wish to consider repeal before they adjourn.

“Now,” Morrell continued, “the secretary has instructed his staff, without cutting any corners, to have everything ready a day sooner because he wants to ensure members of the Armed Services Committee are able to read and consider the complex, lengthy report before holding hearings with its authors and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.”

A whole day. Wow. Let's not forget that President Obama, the Commander-in-Chief, allegedly started consulting upper-level brass on how to study repeal in March 2009. I'm just curious as to why it took a whole year to formulate a series of biased, derogatory questions at a taxpayer cost of .4 million. Well, at least the entire “study” will be released a day early so John McCain can have his hearings. I can't wait for that dog and pony show.

Let's keep in mind the political warfare perpetuated against LGB troops by Republicans, and I don't just mean John McCain. Back in March, during the House Armed Services Committee hearings on DADT, Republican Rep. Joe “You Lie” Wilson accused the Pentagon of having a biased study in favor of repeal, and relying “too heavily” on the 1993 Rand study which showed that repeal of the ban on openly LGB servicemembers would have no impact. He actually used the phrase, “cook the books to the President's desires.” It's already been leaked that the Pentagon study is favorable to repeal. John McCain has said that the fact that the study was leaked invalidated the results, and he wants a do-over (presumably, as many do-overs as it takes to get the results he wants). The next talking point will be that the study was biased in favor of repeal. In fact, that talking point has already been around for a while.

As we say in the Navy, “Stand by.” The next act in the three-ring repeal circus is about to begin.

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

Lieberman and Collins call for DOD to release DADT study early

He’s an independent and she’s a Republican.  This is great of Susan  Collins to do this.  From Josh Gerstein:

On Monday, Senators Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, sent a letter (viewable here) to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, urging him to make the highly-anticipated report public “as soon as possible” to improve the chances that a conditional repeal of the ban on gays in the military – currently attached to a must-pass defense authorization bill – will become law before the clock runs out on the lame-duck session next month.

“Some of our colleagues in the Senate share our view about the importance of passing a defense bill but they are awaiting release of the working group’s report before agreeing to begin debate on the bill,” they wrote. The report, they continue, “will help inform their understanding and alleviate some concerns they may have…. Given the limited amount of time remaining in the 111th Congress, the soonest possible release of the working group’s report could therefore be instrumental in allowing the defense bill to move forward.”




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin