Stonewall activist Storme DeLarverie dies at 93

Storme_DeLarverie_portraitStorme DeLarverie, a lesbian activist who took part in the New York Stonewall riots in 1969 that started the gay rights movement in the United States, has died, The Associated Press reported. She was 93.

DeLarverie died Saturday at a Brooklyn nursing home, said Lisa Cannistraci, a longtime friend and one of her legal guardians.

Born in New Orleans in 1920 to a black mother and a white father, DeLarverie “was born into adversity and lived in adversity her whole life,” Cannistraci said.

In the 1950s, she was part of a traveling drag show called the Jewel Box Revue, where she performed as a male impersonator. In the 1969 riots, she was among those who fought against a police raid at a Greenwich Village bar called the Stonewall.

“She was a very serious woman when it came to protecting people she loved,” Cannistraci said, adding that DeLarverie “just lived to be of service.”

Well into her later years, she worked as a bouncer at bars, including the one where she and Cannistraci met in 1985.

In recent years, DeLarverie suffered from dementia but was still able to appreciate milestones including the advent of same-sex marriage in New York state and the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning parts of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, Cannistraci said.

Peter Frank of the Bronx LGBTQ Community Services Center called DeLarverie “a fierce woman who stood up for our community on countless occasions.”

—  Steve Ramos

Watch Tuesday’s debate with Stonewall Democrats or Log Cabin Republicans

Both Log Cabin Republicans and Stonewall Democrats are planning watch parties for the town hall-format presidential debate on Tuesday, Oct. 16.

Log Cabin will join Dallas County Young Republicans at Stoneleigh P, 2626 Maple Ave. at 8 p.m.

Stonewall Democrats begin the evening with their general meeting at Ojeda’s on Maple Avenue at 6 p.m. Dallas City Councilman Scott Griggs will speak on the upcoming bond election, and Denise Rodriguez will represent Planned Parenthood PAC.

At 7:30 p.m., the group moves to Woody’s on Cedar Springs Road for its debate watch party.

On Oct. 18, Stonewall is staffing an Obama phone bank at Dallas Democratic Party headquarters, 4209 Parry St.

Stonewall will host its third debate watch party at the Texas Theatre on Jefferson Avenue in Oak Cliff on Oct. 22, the day early voting begins.

The Texas Democratic Party announced a partnership with Stonewall Democrats of Texas called “Come Out and Vote.” Launched on National Coming Out Day, Come Out and Vote encourages members of the LGBT community to early-vote on Oct. 27.

“This is another way for the LGBT community and its allies to celebrate and exhibit their strength and pride by engaging in the voting process,” Jacob Limon, Texas Democratic Party deputy executive director, wrote in a press release.

 

—  David Taffet

“Gen Silent” explores challenges facing the elderly LGBT community

Gen Silent PosterThere are almost 38 million LGBT Americans over the age of 65. This number is expected to double by 2030. Yet in a Fenway Institute study fifty percent of nursing home workers said that their co-workers are intolerant of LGBT people. That collision of a rapidly aging queer population and a nursing home system ill-prepared to serve them is explored in Gen Silent, a documentary showing at the GLBT Cultural Center (401 Branard) on Thursday, January 26, at 6:30 pm.

Gen Silent, from award-winning director and documentary filmmaker Stu Maddux, follows six LGBT seniors as they struggle to make decisions about their twilight years. These seniors put a face on what experts in the film call an epidemic: gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender seniors so afraid of discrimination in long-term health care that many go back into the closet.

Gen Silent startlingly discovers how oppression in the years before Stonewall now leaves many elders not just afraid but dangerously isolated and at risk on not receiving medical care. The film shows the wide range in quality of paid caregivers –from those who are specifically trained to make LGBT seniors feel safe, to the other end of the spectrum, where LGBT elders face discrimination, neglect or abuse, including shocking bed-side attempts by staff to persuade seniors to give up their “sinful” lifestyles.

This free screening will be followed by a call-to-action and panel discussion with some of Houston’s GLBT senior leaders.

View the trailer for Gen Silent after the break.

—  admin

Fate of Texas primaries still up in the air after SCOTUS hearing today

Anybody expecting to get some hint of resolution to the redistricting battle raging here in Texas following oral arguments over the issue today before the U.S. Supreme Court is probably disappointed, as it seems the justices want to see the Texas primary elections, already postponed from March to April 3, pushed back to an even later date.

Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis

According Associated Press legal affairs reporter Mark Sherman (as quoted on the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s blog, PoliTex), “The justices discussed moving the primary date back further to give the courts handling different aspects of the case more time. ‘Why can’t this all be pushed back, and wouldn’t that eliminate a lot of the problems we are grappling with in this case?’ Justice Samuel Alito asked.”

And TheHill.com indicates that justices were not happy with either the map drawn last year by the GOP-controlled Texas Legislature or with the interim map drawn last month by federal judges in San Antonio, quoting Chief Justice John Roberts as saying during today’s hearing, “How do you decide between two wrong choices?”

TheHill.com also said, “Most justices indicated they thought both maps were unacceptable and could not be put into law without violating the Voting Rights Act.”

The Legislature’s map favors Republicans, especially in Tarrant County where Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis saw her district taken away, with portions of it allocated to more Republican-leaning areas north and south of Fort Worth.

—  admin

Stonewall Democrats Holiday Party 2011

Photos by John Wright/Dallas Voice

 

—  John Wright

TX Dems won’t vote on marriage in 2012

Party leaders opt against placing nonbinding resolution on primary ballot

Graney.Don

Don Graney

JOHN WRIGHT  |  Senior Political Writer
wright@dallasvoice.com

AUSTIN — Democrats in Texas won’t get to vote next year on whether they support same-sex marriage, after the party’s Executive Committee shot down a proposal to place a non-binding resolution on the March 2012 primary ballot.

Meeting in the capital on Saturday, Nov. 19, the State Democratic Executive Committee voted 33-22 against placing the resolution in support of same-sex marriage on the ballot, according to Dan Graney, president of the party’s LGBT caucus.

The resolution, backed by the Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus, called for same-sex couples to receive “equal access to civil marriage and all its benefits,” and stated that “all state and federal laws denying such access should be repealed.”

In addition to gauging support for marriage equality among Democrats in Texas, the resolution was designed to boost interest and turnout in the primary, especially among young voters, given that President Barack Obama is running unopposed, Graney said.

However, some SDEC members feared backlash from the marriage resolution and said it could be used against Democratic candidates by their Republican opponents, Graney said.

“Unfortunately, many SDEC members are afraid to let Democratic voters have their say on issues they regard as too controversial,” Graney said after the SDEC’s vote. “Polling data shows that legal recognition of same-sex relationships is now supported by 63 percent of all Texans, so I don’t understand the fear about allowing voters to weigh in on this.”

Some openly LGBT members of the SDEC argued passionately in favor of the marriage resolution, Graney said. However, two openly gay SDEC members — both from Tarrant County — opposed it.

SDEC member DeeJay Johannessen, former president of Stonewall Democrats of Tarrant County, said he voted against placing the resolution on the ballot because he didn’t think it would accomplish the stated purpose of increasing voter turnout. Johannessen said valuable resources would have been spent trying to get the resolution passed, even though it would have no practical impact.

Erin-Moore3668

Erin Moore

Johannessen was joined in voting against the resolution by openly gay Tarrant County SDEC member Mary Edwards.

“My thoughts are that we should be dealing with issues about jobs and education and the economy,” Johannessen said. “We need to be focused on issues where we can affect change.

“It wasn’t about marriage equality,” he said of his vote. “It was about whether or not putting this on the ballot would bring more people out to vote, and I didn’t think that would happen.”

Graney said he feels the majority of SDEC members support same-sex marriage. But he said a majority, like Johannessen, opposed the measure for strategic reasons.

The state Republican Party has placed resolutions on primary ballots in at least the last two election cycles, but Democrats have not, Graney said.

Other resolutions voted on by the SDEC last weekend called for abolishing the death penalty, legalizing marijuana, passing the DREAM Act, mandating affordable college tuition and legalizing casino gambling.

The SDEC approved the resolutions related to the DREAM Act, college tuition and casino gambling, and they will appear on the March 6 primary ballot.

Graney noted that the marriage resolution received more support than those calling for abolishing the death penalty and legalizing marijuana, which got only 14 and 12 votes, respectively.

He also commended Texas Democratic Party Chairman Boyd Richie and Resolutions Committee Chairman Dennis Teal for allowing the full SDEC to consider the marriage resolution even though the committee voted against it.

“We had a 45-minute discussion and debate on the issue,” Graney said. “They could have squashed it, but they didn’t.”

Although their votes drew attention because they’re openly gay, Johannessen and Edwards weren’t the only SDEC members from North Texas who opposed the resolution.

In fact, only one of six SDEC members from Dallas County — Theresa Daniel — voted in favor of placing the marriage resolution on the ballot, according to Omar Narvaez, president of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas.
Daniel, a straight LGBT ally and Stonewall member, is running for the Precinct 1 seat on the Dallas County Commissioners Court in 2012.

Erin Moore of Dallas, vice president of the Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus, is a non-voting SDEC member and spoke in support of the marriage resolution during Saturday’s meeting.

“We just thought this was the perfect opportunity to get the pulse of the electorate again,” Moore said of the resolution.

Regardless of whether the resolution appears on the ballot, Moore said, Republicans will try to attack Democrats over gay rights, and voters will ask candidates about their views on same-sex marriage.

Moore said she thinks the SDEC’s vote against placing the resolution on the ballot amounted to Democrats “running scared instead of running strong.”

“They’re scared of losing what we’ve got, which is very little,” she said.

The tally was based on a headcount of SDEC members who stood up, and there is no written record of how each person voted. But both Moore and Graney recalled a clear demographic split over the marriage equality resolution.

They said most members who opposed the resolution were older white males, and they called for the party to respond by electing more progressives and minorities to the SDEC next year.

“The SDEC needs to look like Texas is now, not like Texas was,” Moore said.

Chuck Smith, deputy director of Equality Texas, said he also would have liked to see the resolution on the ballot.
Smith said opponents of LGBT equality frequently point to results from 2005, when three-fourths of Texas voters supported a constitutional amendment banning both same-sex marriage and civil unions.

“We would like to see every candidate for every office asked where they stand on marriage equality,” Smith said. “It’s a subject we need to talk about, and the more we talk about it, the more we’re going to find how significantly the numbers have changed since six years ago.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 25, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Black defends ‘J. Edgar’s’ gay content

Last week, I wrote about a report that Clint Eastwood was getting snippy at questions about the “gay side” of his biopic J. Edgar, about the closeted FBI director. The script was written by Oscar winning writer Dustin Lance Black (right), who has had some success with gay profiles (Milk). Well, now Black goes on the record to the film’s defense. In Next magazine, he says this:

“I wrote this with Ron Howard and Brian Grazer’s Imagine company, and there was never any limitation in terms of where I could or should go except they were very interested in finally figuring out the truth about Hoover. We all wanted to find out what really happened. What was his sexuality. What did it look like. I wanted to get to the truth of his political work and the things that deserve applause and things that were heinous. The gay stuff was only ever going to be a third of it. It’s not Milk, but it’s there. When I finished a draft I liked, and think I got to what the truth is, it’s a story that reflects what gay life was like pre-Stonewall, which was very different from what it looked like for Harvey Milk. That’s the script Clint and the studio read and I’ll tell you what — not only did Clint and the studio never cut or change a word, they never had a note about it. Clint said some things that were so incredibly moving that he understood the struggle young gays go through today. If anything, Clint made it even more human and universal.”

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Stonewall Archives to honor Joel Burns

Joel Burns

Officials with the Stonewall National Museum and Archives announced today that they will be presenting Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns with the Stonewall Spirit of Pride Award at the museum’s Our Stars event Nov. 11 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Burns is being honored for his efforts as part of the It Gets Better campaign to fight bullying and LGBT teen suicide, which began in October last year when he delivered a tearful speech during a council meeting about his own experiences as a bullied teen and the day he contemplated suicide.

Video of Burns’ speech went viral on YouTube, receiving more than 2.6 million views.

Burns will also be speaking Saturday at the annual award program for LEAGUE, the LGBT employee group at AT&T, and on Sunday, Sept. 18, he will be honorary grand marshal in the annual Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade — a fitting choice since the theme for this year’s parade is “It Only Gets Better.”

The Stonewall museum and archives will also be honoring pioneering lesbian politician Elaine Noble at the Our Stars event, presenting her with the Heritage of Pride Award. Noble made history in 1975 as the first openly gay person in the U.S. to be elected to a state legislature.

Previous winners of the Heritage of Pride Award include legendary LGBT activist Barbara Gittings and openly gay U.S. Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts. Burns is the first person to receive the Spirit of Pride Award.

—  admin

Group meets to document Dallas LGBT history

Jack Evans, left, and George Harris

A new group will gather at Resource Center Dallas on Thursday, Aug. 25 to begin a project to document the LGBT history of Dallas.

George Harris and Jack Evans met almost a decade before the Stonewall Rebellion and want people to know they weren’t the first gay couple in Dallas. After celebrating their 50th anniversary earlier this year, they decided it was time to document the history of the LGBT community before it’s lost.

About 10 years ago, KERA produced a documentary called Finding Our Voice: The Dallas Gay and Lesbian Community. Evans raved about the program but said the one-hour special only scratches the surface and there’s been no follow-up.

He said he thinks the new project will include written histories as well as video testimony. Photos of events and places of importance in the LGBT community will also be collected. But the first meeting is just to discuss what form the project will take.

The meeting is set for 6 p.m. Thursday at the Resource Center. Anyone interested in participating in the project is welcome to attend.

—  David Taffet

PHOTOS: Response to ‘The Response’ begins

Riki Miller, Zombie McZee and Britney Miranda.

The responses to “The Response” are under way in Houston. First out of the gate was Friday night’s LGBT Texans Against Hate Rally.  Despite temperatures that had barely come down from the triple digits, Houstonians thronged to Tranquility Park in downtown. Beyond commenting on the temperature, the common theme of most of the speakers was that the American Family Association and Gov. Perry’s rally is not representative of Houston and is not welcomed.

Robert Shipman, president of the Houston Stonewall Young Democrats, said: “I kinda think Rick Perry chose the wrong city!”

He continued “They are the bigots, we are not … we are Houston.”

“I guess we should take comfort in the fact that, except for some of his staffers, [Gov. Perry] couldn’t find enough homegrown bigotry in the state of Texas to put on the event himself,” said Mike Craig, co-chair of Out & Equal Houston. “He had to bus them in from Tupulo, Miss., and Colorado Springs, Colo.” Craig was referring to American Family Association (based in Tupulo) and Focus on the Family (based in Colorado Springs), both co-sponsors of “The Response.”

State Rep.  Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, provided the closing address. He criticized Gov. Perry for using divisive religious rhetoric for political gain. “Being here today I’m proud that we are fighting back against a narrow, theocratic view of the world that we live in and of our country that says that people are not welcomed — that says that people are bad because of who they are. That is not America,” said Coleman. “That is what is dividing our city, our state and our country.”

Stay tuned to Instant Tea for more coverage of the LGBT community’s response to “The Response.” More photos from the LGBT Texans Against Hate Rally below (click to enlarge):

—  admin