“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

President Obama issues memorandum on protecting LGBTs abroad

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Four days in advance of  Human Rights Day on Saturday, Dec. 10,  President Barack Obama today issued a presidential memorandum “to ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons,” according to a statement just released by the White House press office.

The statement sent out by the White House includes these comments by the president:

“The struggle to end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons is a global challenge, and one that is central to the United States commitment to promoting human rights.  I am deeply concerned by the violence and discrimination targeting LGBT persons around the world — whether it is passing laws that criminalize LGBT status, beating citizens simply for joining peaceful LGBT pride celebrations, or killing men, women, and children for their perceived sexual orientation.  That is why I declared before heads of state gathered at the United Nations, “no country should deny people their rights because of who they love, which is why we must stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians everywhere.”  Under my Administration, agencies engaged abroad have already begun taking action to promote the fundamental human rights of LGBT persons everywhere.  Our deep commitment to advancing the human rights of all people is strengthened when we as the United States bring our tools to bear to vigorously advance this goal.”

The memorandum from Obama directs agencies to combat the criminalization of LGBT status or conduct abroad; protect vulnerable LGBT refugees and asylum seekers; leverage foreign assistance to protect human rights and advance nondiscrimination; ensure swift and meaningful U.S. responses to human rights abuses of LGBT persons abroad; engage international organizations in the fight against LGBT discrimination, and report on progress.

I give the president credit for issuing the memorandum at the same time he’s gearing up for what will likely be a tough re-election campaign during which opponents will no doubt use his stance and actions on LGBT issues against him. But I still have to point out that we as LGBT people still face discrimination and inequality right here in the good old U.S.-of-A:

• Our marriages are legally recognized at the federal level and they aren’t recognized in the VAST majority of state and local jurisdictions. We want the Defense of Marriage Act repealed and local and state ordinances and constitutional amendments prohibiting recognition of our relationships need to be overturned.

• There is still no federal protection against workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and/gender expression and gender identity. Congress needs to pass — the president needs to sign — the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

• Even though there is now a federal hate crimes law that includes LGBT people, as well as similar laws at many state and local levels, those laws are not well enforced.

Anti-LGBT bullying remains a deadly problem in our schools and our workplaces and on the Internet. We’ve made progress in combating such bullying, but not nearly enough. Dedicate the resources necessary to address the issue effectively.

So let’s applaud our president for the steps he has — and is — taking. There’s no doubt Obama has been more open than any other president about addressing LGBT issues and we have seen great strides forward toward equality during his administration. But there’s a long way to go yet, and we need to make sure that the president — and all our elected officials — know they can’t just rest on their laurels.

—  admin

We Were Here, AIDS documentary at 14 Pews

We Were HereWe Were Here, the award winning documentary of the early days of the AIDS crisis, premiers at 14 Pews theater (800 Aurora) Saturday, November 20, at 4:30 pm. The film, from director David Weissman, will be proceeded by a panel discussion on the state of the AIDS crisis today.

I came out in 1998, right at the tail end of the worst days of the AIDS crisis. I remember, with vivid clarity, the days of the walking wounded: when every other gay man I met would tell how their doctor said they should have died five years ago, when the community told time by recalling if an event took place before or after a certain person’s funeral.

Fortunately those days are largely behind us, but as new HIV infections continue to rise and we struggle to maintain funding for medications that are keeping people alive (at a cost of thousands of dollars a month), it’s important that we never forget the early days of the pandemic. For people of my generation and younger the mysterious “Gay Plague” that threatened our community in the early eighties can seem more like a fairy tale monster than the horrifying crisis it was, and is.

We Were Here tells the real life stories of five people who survived. Their mundane and profound recollections highlight, not only their personal experiences, but the broad political and social upheavals unleashed by the crisis. From their different vantage points as caregivers, activists, researchers, as friends and lovers of the afflicted, and as people with AIDS themselves, the interviewees share stories which are not only intensely personal, but which also illuminate the much larger themes of that era: the political and sexual complexities, and the terrible emotional toll. The film highlights the role of women – particularly lesbians – in caring for and fighting for their gay brothers.

Tickets for We Were Here are $10 and can be purchased at 14pews.org.

After the jump watch the trailer for We Were Here.

—  admin

‘Camp Death’ tonight at Pocket Sandwich

Keep that Halloween feeling

Pocket Sandwich Theatre keeps the frights going along with the laughs in their latest popcorn-tossing show Camp Death. No block parties to struggle through this time. Just sit back and enjoy as Pocket Sandwich spoofs on Friday the 13th and other ’80s horror flicks. And stock up on the popcorn. It’s just as fun to toss at your friends as it is the onstage villains.

DEETS: Pocket Sandwich Theatre, 5400 E. Mockingbird Lane, Ste. 119. 7:30 p.m. $10–$18. PocketSandwich.com.

—  Rich Lopez

What’s the best way to get young people involved in the struggle for LGBT equality? Free alcohol

Judge Tonya Parker
Judge Tonya Parker

Everyone knows it’s difficult to get young LGBT people to give more than a shit about gay rights, but if you offer them free alcohol, they just might show up. This appears to be the strategy of Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats, which is offering a free drink to anyone who attends its monthly meeting tonight at Dish Restaurant & Lounge. Actually, you could be eligible for up to four free drinks if you bring a friend, according to a message we received from DSYD:

“That’s right! Everyone attending Tuesday’s DSYD meeting will receive a free drink ticket. As an added incentive, people who bring a friend (a.k.a. a potential new member) will receive two drink tickets for themselves and two for their friend.”

We’re currently seeking clarification as to whether this means you have to be a member bringing a non-member to be eligible for the four free drinks, or whether it can just be two random people. And in case you’re wondering why her photo is alongside this post, the meeting will also feature Dallas County District Judge Tonya Parker, the first openly LGBT person elected judge in Dallas County, and the first out African-American elected official in Texas.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. For more info, see the Facebook event page.

UPDATE: DSYD Vice President Jared A. Pearce stopped by the Instant Tea brewery in response to this post. As Pearce pointed out in the comments below, you have to be 21 to drink, and these types of promotions are not uncommon. Pearce also mentioned that DSYD held a very successful fundraiser over the weekend, featuring House Democratic Leader Jessica Farrar. The event raised $5,500 and drew 100 people, Pearce said. The DSYD chapter is approaching its second anniversary after being launched in March 2009. The chapter has 250 members on its roster and has raised more than $13,000 for the Legacy Counseling Center. Read a story about the chapter’s launch here.

—  John Wright

Obama: ‘I struggle’ with gay marriage

I can’t help but feel that President Obama is hedging for political reasons, rather than personal or religious reasons. Otherwise he wouldn’t have endorsed gay marriage in 1996, and he did. Now he supposedly doesn’t. Who goes backwards in their support for civil rights (outside of John McCain)? Gay rights is no longer the political third rail it may have once been. Yet our politicians continue to treat it as such. Look at DADT. Once we broke the filibuster, the Republicans didn’t even want to debate the issue, they caved. The appetite is no longer there. We now could use a little more appetite on our side. Marriage is the frontier. President Obama, and every other politician, needs to get with the program.

And good for ABC’s Jake Tapper. He has consistently pushed the administration on gay issues. It’s much appreciated.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

Researcher coming to Dallas to interview gay couples about effects of marriage amendment

America's Struggle for Same-Sex Marriage by Daniel PinelloProfessor Dan Pinello of John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York is studying the effects of anti-gay laws on same-sex couples in Super-DOMA states. Those are states such as Texas that have ratified amendments to state constitutions banning recognition of all forms of relationship rights.

Pinello is the author of America’s Struggle for Same-Sex Marriage (2006) and Gay Rights and American Law (2003).

He has already conducted more than 100 interviews in Georgia, Michigan and Ohio to determine the grassroots impact of these laws.

He will be in Dallas interviewing lesbian and gay couples in the DFW area for his new book. He’s investigating the grassroots effects of the 2005 Texas Marriage Amendment and wants to meet with a wide variety of same-sex pairs in committed relationships.

Pinello will be in North Texas Jan. 8-16. Interviews will take no more than 60 minutes. For further information, please contact him at dpinello@jjay.cuny.edu.

—  David Taffet

Wheeler to annoy Tyler again — and we like it

What with the recent ado in Tyler regarding the TV station that asked viewers whether homosexuality will be the downfall of America, we were thinking about our friend Trinity Wheeler. Trinity is the former Tyler resident who returned last summer to direct a local stage production of The Laramie Project, only to be met by opposition from some members of the community and triggering a controversy. (We reported on it extensively, including here.) The production did go on, and by all accounts was a success.

But it also made me wonder what Trinity has been up to since the brouhaha. Well, here’s what he had to say:

I have been great! I’m directing a show in NYC in the spring and have just been getting ready for that. Also, three other writers and I are currently working on an original play about Tyler. The story centers on the Nicholas West murder and an organization called H.I.S. House which was an AIDS hospice in Tyler during the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. The Nicholas West story has garnered some media attention over the years, but the story and struggle of an AIDS hospice in Tyler remains untold. With Nicholas West, it examines “hate” and how it develops into the sheer brutality (shot execution style 9-15 times) of his murder. I have often wondered if Nick’s murder was not as public as Matt Shepard because he was Latin and his parents did not speak out like the Shepards. We are in the process of conducting numerous interviews with people surround both stories and slowing piecing it together. I know I have said it before, but everyone at the Dallas Voice should be commended for your help during The Laramie Project in Tyler. You were a beacon a light when the going got tough there.”

That last part is nice to hear, but we’re really interested in that play. Can’t imagine it’ll upset anyone in Tyler again.

Yeah, right.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Q Live! debuts with ‘Spring Awakening’ at McDavid Studio

Q Cinema branches out
Frank WederkindQ Cinema debuts their spinoff this week with some precision timing. QLive!, the new theater branch presents a staged reading of Frank Wedekind’s 1893 play Spring Awakening: A Children’s Tragedy.  The show’s two teens struggle with homosexuality, suicide and rape. Wederkind’s work is a dark contrast to the the musical which opens on Tuesday.

DEETS: McDavid Studio, 301 E. Fifth St., Fort Worth. 8 p.m. $10. QCinema.org.

—  Rich Lopez

LSR Journal: Because I learned what’s important

Eddie Munoz  Team Dallas Voice

Eddie Munoz
Eddie Munoz

This year marks the first year I’m officially involved with the Lone Star Ride.

I’ll be honest: Initially, I wanted a reason to be obliged to stay fit during the dog days of summer, not to mention getting to wear the shiny, sexy 88 percent polyester/12 percent spandex cycling gear. I mean seriously, who doesn’t look good in that?

Although my reason for participating began as a selfish ploy to achieve somewhat of an Adonis status, the reality of the event’s purpose has undoubtedly taken over — and I’m glad it has.

I first heard of Lone Star Ride while working for the Dallas Voice in Web development during my college days. As part of my duty, I would upload the weekly newspaper to the website, reading the stories as it pertained to our community’s struggle in the area, state, country and world. One of the things I remember was preparing for the Lone Star Ride articles and thought, “Oh here’s just another fundraiser.”

Back then I was a different person than I am today. As a younger person, I didn’t see the need to get involved, nor did I feel that I, as an individual, could make a difference.

It wasn’t until I graduated from college and met someone whose whole life pertained to getting involved in our community and I was inspired. He was making a difference, “saving the gays” as he sometimes would say. He definitely made a difference in me whether he knows it or not.

I’m happy to say that now I wake up next to him everyday.

In March, Robert Moore and I talked about the Lone Star Ride, and for some reason, I had a strong urge to know more about the ride and to get involved.

So a couple of months ago I picked up a bike from the Lone Star locker and began to train. Let me tell you though, it has not been easy to train for the 75 miles I hope to accomplish in September.

My very first training ride consisted of 23 miles and I said to myself, “Oh Lord! What did you get yourself into?” No amount of Gatorade could’ve quenched my thirst that day.

For someone who grew up with asthma and who, shamefully but admittedly, barely learned how to ride a bike five years ago, it has been a challenge. I’ve had a couple falls here and there, bruises, injuries, blood, sweat and tears. But with every fall I have, I commit myself to riding even more.

Cycling has become my therapy, a healthy escape from the weekly workload, the bars and the drama that it sometimes entails.

It’s also a game of mind versus body — “just one more mile … one more … one more,” I tell myself.

When I ride I focus on the people that the event benefits, and I can also focus on myself and my life. Whether I’m riding with my team, my partner or by myself, it is always an enjoyable experience for me.

I may not know the people that the event benefits, but I know that it will make a difference, that I will finally make a difference. I’ve learned to participate in life and help those in need, those who want another day in this world, who want to know they’re still appreciated and not forgotten.

AIDS may be incurable, but our apathy and inability to help has a cure. It only takes a minute, the click of a mouse, to donate online and change someone’s life.

So as I prepare to hit the pavement in September in my 88 percent polyester/12 percent spandex cycling shorts, I look forward to hearing from the organizations and the people that your contributions go towards.

And I hope to return next year and do it all over again with a bigger fundraising goal and more support.

To donate to Eddie Munoz or any other Lone Star Ride rider, go online to LoneStarRide.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 3, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens