Volunteer opportunity for Tyler-area gays

If you live in or plan to visit the Tyler-Canton-Longview area, Tyler Area Gays and East Texas PFLAG need your help on July 12. Members of these two organizations will be participating in Trash Off Day on July 12 by cleaning up the portion of U.S. 69 that has been adopted by TAG.Screen shot 2014-07-07 at 10.17.18 AM

Participants should be at New Life Worship Center , 18535 U.S. 69 (1.5 miles south of the light at Loop 49 — the modern-looking church up on the hill) by 8 a.m. The TAG portion of U.S. 69 is about 3.3 miles south of the light at Target on South Broadway and on the south side of Loop 49. According to a press release about the clean-up effort, the clean-up ALWAYS starts on time and takes about an hour.

That stretch of highway has two signs — one on the southbound side of the road and the other on the northbound side — noting that it has been “adopted” by Tyler Area Gays. In return, TAG has “agreed to clean up a two-mile section of highway four times a year.” But as TAG leaders pointed out in a press release about the clean-up effort, “A two-mile section may not sound very long but since we are cleaning both sides of the highway, this immediately becomes four miles of cleaning.” So they need all the help they can get.

In the conservative East Texas town where, in 1993, Nicholas West was murdered in a brutal, anti-gay hate crime that made national headlines, it’s significant that an LGBT organization is so out and so visible. As TAG leaders said in their press release looking for clean-up volunteers, “Our participation testifies to our community spirit, promotes teamwork and exercise and makes our presence known. Another way to put it is we want people to know that we we are here and that we are responsible. citizens.”

—  Tammye Nash

Tyler YMCA accused of discriminating against LGBT families

Why is it that health clubs in Texas seem to be more afraid of LGBT families than any other type of business? In Dallas, Baylor eliminated family memberships rather than give a family membership to one gay couple.

Now, in Tyler, a lesbian couple wants to join the YMCA, but the organization won’t allow them to.

Well, the YMCA did allow them to join as a family when their 10-year-old son was on the swim team. But now that the organization doesn’t get anything out of deal, the YMCA reportedly says no.

We reached the office of YMCA of Tyler CEO Stuart Gilpin to get their comment, but he did not return a call.

Suzy Sheridan, one of the lesbian moms, created a Change.org petition that she wants others to sign to encourage the YMCA to be more family-friendly to all families. The petition already has more than 4,000 signatures.

Sheridan could not immediately be reached for further comment. Here’s her story from Change.org:

The Tyler YMCA has discriminated against my family and denied letting us join under the family plan because we are not a traditional family. My life partner and I have been together for over twenty years and have a 20 year old son. We also assist another young man who has lived with us nearly two years. I was told I would have to produce a marriage certificate before they would let us join under the family plan. I told them that was not possible since I live in Texas and our long time relationship was not recognized in this state. I told them that I felt they were being discriminatory. What’s ironic is that they didn’t have a problem letting us join under the family plan when our son swam on their swim team 10 years ago. I feel they should have a policy across the board for all their facilities allowing all types of families to join their organization.

—  David Taffet

Kerry Max Cook in the news, in different ways

Theatre 3, which planned a full run of the play The Exonerated in its Theatre Too space downstairs, has been forced to cut back due to construction issues. Now, it will run for only three staged readings on May 18 and 19 at 8 p.m. and a May 20 matinee at 2:30 p.m.

One of the persons profiled in this show — which chronicles the experiences of six death row inmates later exonerated — is Kerry Max Cook, pictured.

I have an odd relationship with Kerry. I knew nothing about his alleged crime — supposedly murdering a woman in Tyler in 1977 — until I moved to Dallas in 1990. At that time, he was undergoing a retrial in Dallas, and the story was covered almost daily on the front page of the Dallas Morning News. His image — the shock-white brush-cut and stony look — was memorable, and when he was re-convicted, I thought, “Just as well. He probably did it.” Then in 1997, he entered a plea deal, pleading “no contest” in exchange for a sentence of time-served. (The Exonerated followed a decade later.)

Everyone seems to be in agreement that Kerry didn’t do it. Certainly, that was my conclusion, after I met and interviewed him. Kerry came by my office in 2005 or 2006, and I wrote a cover story for the Voice about his ordeal. (His hair was darker by then, but the face was unmistakeable.) Kerry was a friendly fellow, who spoke convincingly about his innocence.

One thing he said to me was that he always assumed he was targeted in part because he frequented gay bars in Dallas in the 1970s, and was therefore labeled an “undesirable” by the cops in Tyler. (Tyler has a pretty crappy history when it comes to gay stuff.) Kerry has since married a woman.

I really liked Kerry, but truth is, “exonerated” has always been a slight overstatement. Kerry wasn’t deemed “innocent,” just freed and the death penalty against him abandoned.

But Kerry doesn’t wanna let it go. He’s back in court in Smith County, asking to conduct more DNA evidence to conclusively establish his innocence, as reported in the Texas Tribune. Personally, I hope he wins. And I hope it makes people reconsider the death penalty.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Pioneering Dallas LGBT and HIV/AIDS activist Reed Hunsdorfer dies in E. Texas wreck

Reed Hunsdorfer

Reed Hunsdorfer, 62, an early Resource Center Dallas employee, died in a car wreck in East Texas on Saturday.

KTRE, the ABC affiliate in Lufkin-Nacogdoches, reports that Hunsdorfer was on Highway 79 southwest of Henderson when his vehicle was struck head-on. He died at the scene. His partner, Gary Simmons, was injured, and so was the other motorist. Hunsdorfer moved to East Texas about seven years ago.

“Reed was a giant of man with an outsized heart of gold,” said William Waybourn, a founder of Resource Center Dallas, then known as the Foundation for Human Understanding which did business as the AIDS Resource Center. “His sacrifices were many, and his contributions incalculable. Many Dallas organizations were sustained during their critical infancy by Reed’s persistence, time and energy. His no-BS, ‘let’s-get-it-done’ attitude made things happen in the trenches during some of the darkest days. His endeavors helped pay for real services, medicine, food on the table or roofs over their heads. He was a champion for the cause and deserves much recognition.”

Among other things, Hunsdorfer was instrumental in creating Razzle Dazzle Dallas. In addition to his partner, he’s survived by his brother, Lloyd; and sister, Carol Royce.

—  David Taffet

Tyler Clementi’s Parents Will Sue Rutgers University Over Suicide

Tyler Clementi's parents Joseph and Jane have filed notice they plan on suing Rutgers University for failing to protect their son over "unlawful or otherwise improper acts perpetrated against." Tyler jumped to his death off the George Washington Bridge in September after his dormmate broadcast an intimate encounter to the web. According to the notice, "It appears Rutgers University failed to act, failed to put in place and/or failed to implement, and enforce policies and practices that would have prevented or deterred such acts, and that Rutgers failed to act timely and appropriately." While no proposed dollar amount is listed, the Clementis cite their suffering, loss of companionship and support, and their financial costs. Should we assume a lawsuit against his two alleged perpetrators is en route?


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Queerty

—  admin

Lawyers For Students Who Broadcast Tyler Clementi’s Intimate Encounter Claim No Sexual Contact On Webcam Video

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Lawyers and friends of Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei, the two former Rutgers students (they both withdrew from the school late last week) who filmed Tyler Clementi's intimate encounter with another man intimate before the freshman student took his own life, have announced that there was no sex or nudity involved in the webcam broadcast. They also claim that the video was only viewed from one computer: Wei's.

The Star-Ledger reports:

"I’m unaware of any evidence of sexual contact," said Rubin Sinins, Wei’s attorney. "The statute defining sexual contact refers to nudity and private parts, and, to my knowledge, nothing like that was seen. I’m also unaware of any evidence that any video was recorded, reproduced or disseminated in any way." Law enforcement officials declined to discuss the case because it is still under investigation. Prosecutors are considering whether to upgrade the charges against Ravi and Wei to bias crimes because Clementi was gay.

The article also includes accounts from friends of the duo: "She said, 'Dharun came in to my room and turned on my computer to web chatting. We watched for two minutes," said Sean Yan, 18, a longtime friend. Wei told friends she saw Clementi and a male visitor kissing. She described the visitor as 'kind of sketchy,' with ragged clothes and a scruffy beard, Yan said. Later on the night of Sept. 19, Ravi used his Twitter account to tell friends that he and Wei had seen his roommate 'making out with a dude.' The feed went out to Ravi’s nearly 150 Twitter followers."


Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

Watch: Alec Baldwin is Angry He Can’t Marry Jesse Tyler Ferguson

Baldwin

Alec Baldwin responds to the announcement in August by Jesse Tyler Ferguson that they're getting married, in a new spot for Fight Back NY.

As you may recall Fight Back NY is the PAC targeting anti-gay lawmakers in the New York Senate. Their current target is Queens senator Frank Padavan. If you feel inclined to take Alec's advice, help them out here.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP



Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright

Rutgers school paper is pissed off that Tyler Clementi’s death actually meant something

It’s attitudes like the one in this editorial that lead gay youth to not feel secure. Yes, God forbid that one young man’s death actually leads to a push for a more gay-inclusive, gay-accepting, society.

Big ass editorial in the Rutgers school paper, the Daily Targum, about how upset the paper is that Tyler Clementi’s recent decent has to led to an outcry about the recent spate of gay youth suicides nationwide. Here’s a taste of the editorial:

The death of University student Tyler Clementi might have been properly mourned if it were not for the massive rallies and aggressive news coverage that altered the nature of the situation. The truth is that an 18-year-old boy killed himself – he was a student just like the rest of us, someone just trying to receive an education. Yet people’s relentless agendas took his death and turned it into a cause based on false pretenses.

We did not know Tyler. It was barely three weeks into his first year at the University, and most of his neighbors in his residence hall barely knew him. Turning his death into a push for gay rights is a fallacy. Homosexuality is not the only reason for which people kill themselves. In this case, it might have pushed Clementi over the edge, but the fact that he was gay should by no means turn his death into a march for safe spaces. These groups want to be heard. They want the attention. They want their agendas to shine in the limelight.

Let me take a wild guess. The editorial writer is a conservative, straight, and a guy.

As for those horrible activists “wanting their agendas to shine in the limelight”… man what an asshole.  I nearly forgot what it was like to be in college, and to have a Republican man-child writing for the school paper.

What Republican man-child doesn’t get is that had Tyler been straight, had he been filmed having sex with a girl, and had that film made its way online, he might have been freaked, he might have even still committed suicide – maybe.  But the chances are much greater of all that happening when the victim is gay.

When you’re straight and the boys in college see a vid of you screwing a girl, you’re the BMOC.  When you’re a fag and it happens, the entire school mocks you, points at you, and laughs.  It’s just not funny when a guy f-cks a girl.  It’s funny as hell when a dude does it to another dude and the entire world gets to watch, and laugh.

And what about your parents?  Has GOP man-child come out to his parents as straight?  How about to his aunts and uncles, to his cousins, to his childhood friends, to the people on his floor, to the lady at the front desk of his dorm, and to the guy he buys his coffee from on the way to class (let alone every single stranger he sees on his way to class)?  I’m gonna go out on a limb here and suggest that after having been filmed having sex, straight kids don’t need to worry about coming out as “straight” to every single human being they’re going to see for the next few months, if not years.  Gay kids do.  And while straight kids won’t be berated, beaten up, killed, and disowned for being straight – gay kids will.

That’s why what happened to Tyler was such a big deal to so many people across the country.  They could relate.  They could relate to the shame, the embarrassment, the mockery, and ultimately the feeling that you just can’t go on.  Those feelings don’t usually come from being straight.  They come far too often from being gay.

What a lame ass editorial for a school paper to be writing at a school where a kid just killed himself.  How about welcoming the awareness that’s been raised as a result of this death?  The small good that might come from something so bad.

And finally, if the jerk who wrote this editorial thinks that the national attention, sorrow, and rage has been orchestrated by organizations with an agenda, well, then he’s not a very good reporter either.  123,959 people haven’t joined this Facebook page because some activist organization told them to.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright

Maggie Gallagher On Tyler Clementi

“The suicide of that teen was not only a tragedy it was a crime. The young people who violated laws out of mindless desire to bully or embarrass or whatever the heck kids do this stuff will be prosecuted and probably jailed, I hope. Nothing in the press accounts suggest the kids who did this were motivated by homophobia, and the cruelty of cyberbullying is causing teen suicides among those who are not gay, as well. I do not think the absence of gay marriage is the cause of these tragedies or its presence will resolve them. We can make this a symbol of all our other fights, or we can try to save all our kids, gay and straight, from this kind of ugly and mindless cruelty. My heart goes out to the family of the young man. God bless him and them.” – Maggie Gallagher, commenting on NOM’s blog.

Jeremy Hooper responds at Good As You: “It doesn’t matter what Maggie personally thinks about what will or will not resolve tragedies like the ones we’ve seen this week. It doesn’t matter how heartfelt her personal condolences may be. What matters is the body of her professional work with NOM and elsewhere, and the fallout that we gay folk all-too-well know can stem from these “culture war” activities! Because it is this bias cultivation that changes the molecules in the air. It’s this anti-civil rights work that puts heterosexism into everyone’s psyches. It’s this fear-fostering that foments a world where LGBT people are viewed as different, wrong, or in some extreme cases – unworthy of life.”

Joe. My. God.

—  John Wright