Son of a beach

A family vacation proves unexpectedly gay as Myrtle Beach, S.C., gets Pride

RAINBOW TOUR | Nearly 200 beachcombers — including the author (dark green, just right of center) — stepped away from the surf and gathered in a field to form a human rainbow flag.

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor

The trip to Myrtle Beach, S.C., had more to do with a family reunion than finding a good destination for gay travelers. After all, Myrtle Beach is a pretty lazy, conservative town in the perennial Red State, one where teenaged spring breakers and families gather to enjoy the warm surf and the resort-town appeal of seafood and beachcombing and overpriced cocktails. Queer travelers can hit one of the three gay bars, all within blocks of each other — Club Traxx, Time Out! and the Rainbow House (a lesbian club).

But the weekend I arrived , just by coincidence, it turned out to be Gay Pride.

Keep in mind, the gay community in Myrtle Beach is small, so “Gay Days,” plural, felt more like Gay Day, singular: One major event and then life as usual in Coastal Carolina.

The major event, though, was an ambitious one: Gathering members of the LGBT community and their allies to form a “human rainbow flag:” People signed up to wear a pastel-colored T-shirt and arrange themselves in the traditional configuration. A few others wore black, forming the flagpole.

The entire event was threatened by showers late Friday and early Saturday, but despite a slightly muddy field, nearly 200 people turned out, huddled closely on a muggy afternoon, while a photographer flew above in a helicopter.

Numbers weren’t uniform; there were too many reds and too few purples; but the effect was one of a flag waving in the breeze.

In order to do the shoot, members faced each other before bending forward to allow the broad field of their shirts to form the colors. Directly across from me stood Elke Kennedy, a resident of Greenville in the Upstate. Elke and her husband established, raising awareness of anti-gay violence, after their gay son was beaten to death and his killer spent less than a year in jail.

Elke spoke at a rally following the photoshoot, and dozens in attendance listened to her recount her  son’s harrowing attack and death before two drag queens performed and a DJ spun dance hits. People started to file out after a while, off to the beach, or the clubs, or even the boardwalk, where the Texas Star-like Skywheel gives great views of the beach … and sits next door to the campily named souvenir shop the Gay Dolphin.

The latter was always may favorite place when I was growing up; you’d think my parents would have caught on sooner.

Click here for additional photos.

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

—  Michael Stephens

GLBT Dallas posts contest for Dallas Pride

Time to rile up all your out-of-town friends for this one. GLBT Dallas has posted a sweepstakes to win a trip to Dallas Pride 2011. The package is a sweet one, too, and let’s hope the winner doesn’t forget the parade and festival altogether. Check it out:

One lucky winner will receive:

Two roundtrip passes to Dallas on American Airlines
•  A four-day, three-night stay at the luxurious W Dallas – Victory hotel
•  Dinner for two at Craft at W Dallas – Victory
•  Two VIP passes to Gaybingo Dallas compliments of Resource Center Dallas
•  Two passes to Gay Day at Six Flags Over Texas compliments of Dallas Voice

I mean, like, for reals? Those are some stellar reasons to sign up to win. Which you can do so, by going here.

—  Rich Lopez

Kimpton Tops With Gay Travelers

HRC KIMPTON X390 | ADVOCATE.COMKimpton has pulled ahead of the W as the hotel group that does the best
job of promoting itself to the gay and lesbian travel market, according
to a new survey. Daily News

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Transgender Travelers and the TSA

The following is from HRC’s Associate Director of Diversity Allyson Robinson:

For most airline passengers, passing through a TSA security checkpoint has until recently been a slight inconvenience and little more – one minor stressor among the many connected with travel by air.  But as a frequent flyer (60,000 miles this year and counting) who is openly transgender, airport security is my single greatest source of anxiety when I travel.

Why?  It begins long before I leave for the airport.  TSA’s Secure Flight pre-screening program, implemented in 2009, requires passengers to declare their name and gender when purchasing a ticket, and these must match the name and gender on your ID.  For many transgender people, this means outing themselves as soon as they present their ID and boarding pass at the checkpoint, as many of us do not have or are unable to acquire ID that matches our transitioned presentation.  It often exposes us to heightened scrutiny (and, potentially, to harassment and discrimination) before we ever get in line for the scanners.  I’ve been the target of verbal harassment many times at this stage of security.  I’ve also had TSA agents expose my identity as a transgender person loudly enough that other passengers in the screening area could hear, violating my privacy and putting me at a higher risk for harassment and even violence from others.

With TSA’s recent introduction of full-body scanners and enhanced pat-down procedures, the risk of discriminatory treatment of transgender passengers increases dramatically. The scanners reveal to security personnel any prostheses a transgender person may be wearing (a transgender woman wearing prosthetic breasts, for example) and expose intimate body contours that can also out us as transgender.  This can lead to a pat-down – and to the kind of humiliating treatment recently received by a flight attendant and breast cancer survivor who was required to remove her prosthetic breast for a TSA agent’s inspection after a scan revealed its presence.

A transgender person can be outed several times though the course of this security process, and every time the chances of harassment and discrimination increase. That’s why HRC first raised these issues in 2008 when we presented our Blueprint for Positive Change to the Obama transition team.  We’ll continue working with the Administration and with our partner organizations until we’re satisfied TSA procedures balance legitimate security needs with the dignity and safety of all travelers, including those of us who are transgender.

If you’re flying for the holidays, I wish you luck getting through the hassles that come with traveling by air these days.  If you’re transgender, then check out these great resources and tips compiled by the National Center for Transgender Equality.  Above all, be proud and be safe.

Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

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Transgender Travelers and New TSA Policies

Note from Autumn: The National Center For Transgender Equality (NCTE) has come out with a resource discussing TSA procedures relating to trans people. I’ve had a personal experience with a the policy on the way back to San Diego from the GetEQUAL direct actions in Washington DC.

On my return flights from DC to San Diego, I was subject to a full body scan by a full body scanner, and the a full body pat down. NCTE: What transgender people need to know about TSA's proceduresI didn’t tell the female TSA officer who searched me that I was transgender because I didn’t want to be searched by a male, and I didn’t know the policy for the search of trans people. Basically, I was waiting for her fingers to probe my crotch and find a ‘package’ of a different sort, but that didn’t happen. Having had federal officers of the law previously refer to me as an ‘impersonator,’ ‘it’ and a ‘shim,’ I actually expected that if an officer found my ‘package’ of a different sort, I would have been subject to unwanted, unprofessional behavior. The officer didn’t find my ‘package,’ and didn’t subject me to verbal harassment — this time.

The three prongs of behavior that make behavior rise to the level of sexual harassment are 1.) the behavior happens in the workplace, 2.) the behavior involves sex, and 3.) the behavior is unwanted behavior. If a TSA screener were to use an antitransgender pejorative after finding a ‘package’ or breast forms on at transgender woman, or after not finding a ‘package’ on a transgender man — or finding a silicone ‘package’ on a transgender man — then the behavior would qualify as sexual harassment.

The chances of sexual harassment happening to transgender people at the hands of TSA officers is increased because the TSA doesn’t require training for its officers regarding sensitivity to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. Even though it’s well known that there are transgender people in American society, the TSA doesn’t train their officers on how to behave if they find one in the course of screening passengers.

I asked the ACLU’s Massachusetts’ chapter on twitter what the TSA policy is for transgender passengers facing the full body scan and the full body search, and they didn’t know — they were going to look into it. NCTE has filled out some details, which include the right to be searched by someone of the same gender that a trans person identifies as.

The concern I have for early transitioning trans people is the use of prosthetics — including padded, underwire bras and breast forms for trans women, and packing prosthetics for trans men — are going to raise red flags on trans people. Already we’ve heard stories in mainstream media of women who’ve had mastectomies, and wearing breast forms, being subject to embarrassing searches around their breasts — one woman was reported to have had to pull out a breast form a show it to a TSA officer. One man had the seal to his urostomy bag broken by a TSA officer conducting a search, so urine soaked his shirt and pants. This, to me, doesn’t show that TSA officers are sensitive to the needs of minority populations that use prostetics and medical devices, so this doesn’t seem to me to bode well for trans people who just want to be left alone when we travel.

So, as I fly to accomplish direct actions and go to conferences, and then I face more scans and/or more physical searches by TSA officers into the future, I feel that it’s just a matter of time until on one of these flights I experience sexual harassment because of my ‘package.’ Should I be sexually harassed, I will respond with a formal complaint because I’m out, I’m proud, and I won’t stand for having my humanity diminished by officers of the law who are supposed to be protecting me. But, that I’m actually mentally preparing myself for expected bad behavior speaks to how unprotected I actually feel, and probably actually am, from the actions of federal officers of the law.

Below is a post by jonpincus, regarding the NCTE resource on travel by trans people — especially regarding TSA searches of trans people related to air travel.


The National Center For Transgender Equality (NCTE) has some great resources on how the new "naked scanners" and enhanced patdowns affect transgender travelers — and just as importantly, what your rights are.  A lot of what’s here applies to everybody, for example:

First, it is important that you KNOW YOUR RIGHTS. Even if TSA personnel are not always familiar with travelers' rights, such as the right to decline a full-body scan, you should know them. You may need to politely inform the officer of your rights and choices.

Second, calmly and clearly expressing your choices is very important. This makes it easier for the TSA agents to understand what your needs are and may help you get through the checkpoint more quickly.

And there are also some vital transgender-specific bullet points, including these:

  • You have the right to have manual search procedures performed by an officer who is of the same gender as the gender you are currently presenting yourself as. This does not depend on the gender listed on your ID, or on any other factor. If TSA officials are unsure who should pat you down, ask to speak to a supervisor and calmly insist on the appropriate officer.
  • You should not be subjected to additional screening or inquiry because of any discrepancy between a gender marker on an ID and your appearance. As long as your ID has a recognizable picture of you on it, with your legal name and birth date, it should not cause any problem.

There’s a lot more, too, so check it out.  And they also have a very clear 4-page PDF guide to whole-body imaging, covering some of the same ground and providing more background.  
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

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NCTE offers tips for transgender travelers on dealing with new TSA procedures

With the holiday travel season upon us, the National Center for Transgender Equailty issued guidance today on how transgender people should deal with new equipment and procedures being used by the Transportation Security Administration.

NCTE says it opposes the new procedures but has been working with TSA to ensure that transgender travelers are treated respectfully.

“The new policy presents transgender travelers with a difficult choice between invasive touching and a scan that reveals the intimate contours of the body,” NCTE says. “Unless and until NCTE and our allies can get these unreasonable policies fixed, NCTE encourages transgender travelers to think through the available options and make their own decisions about which procedure feels least uncomfortable and less unsafe.”

Read the full report from NCTE by going here.

—  John Wright

Logo’s ‘Bump!’ features Dallas

Resource Center Dallas reports on Facebook that Logo’s “Bump!” was scheduled to feature Big D on Wednesday night. Logo crews were at RCD’s “the Five Factor” and Gaybingo Dallas last fall. Filmmaker Robert Camina says the episode was also to include Michael DiQuinzio, Rodd Gray, Hungdinger, Wayne Smith as Cher, ilume, Derrick Brown, Station 4, the Round-Up, Sue Ellens, the Tin Room, Hotel Palomar, Woody’s, JR.’s and the Dallas Diablos. Wow!

According to the Logo website, the show was scheduled to air at 6 p.m. local time and again at  10:30 a.m. Thursday. In case you’re not familiar, here’s a description of the show:

Join hosts Charlie David (Dante’s Cove), and Shannon McDonough as they tour the world in search of the most fascinating and engaging destinations for LGBT travelers. Every episode showcases a different gay-friendly city and all the fun and stylish activities they offer.

—  John Wright

Virgin America to add daily flights from DFW to LA, San Fran

Since Los Angeles and San Francisco are likely quite popular destinations for LGBT travelers, I am sure there are plenty of you in Instant Tea Land who will be happy to know that Virgin America airlines will offer two flights daily to L.A., and two flights daily to San Francisco, beginning in December.

Go here to read more about the announcement from the San Francisco-based airline.

—  admin