From Johnny Diaz's Beantown Cuban blog:
Ahh, Miami. A carnival of construction cranes. Tropical breezes that soothe your skin and comfort your soul. Flashy zoom-zoom-zoom cars that whoosh by you in blurs on I-95. New condo towers jutting into the sky like expensive watches. Home and I love it.
It's so good to be back in my hometown. I'm here for two book readings. If you're in town and looking for something to do tonight (Thursday) at 8 p.m., please drop by Books and Books, 265 Aragon Ave. in Coral Gables for a book reading and discussion of gay Latino life and the creative writing process. Boston Boys Club is not just a fun light read; it's also heavy enough to hold down your towel from flying away into the Altantic Ocean at the 12th Street beach. So it's a good read and a towel weight.
If you're in Broward, I'm headed there too. I have another book reading at 4 p.m. Saturday, June 2, at Borders Book and Music, 2240 E. Sunrise Blvd in Fort Lauderdale (across from the Galleria or "Gayeria" Mall.)
I look forward to both events. This feels like a homecoming for me and I'm glad to be back.
If you can read in Spanish, El Nuevo Herald (The Miami Herald's Spanish sister paper) published a very nice article in today's paper on the book and how I grew up in Miami. Here is a link to the story. The story means a lot to me because I used to be a reporter at The Miami Herald but more importantly, because my parents can finally read something about me en espanol.
The Village People -- gay icons of the '70s -- will perform July 17 at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood. Eric, Alex, Felipe, David, Ray & Jeff are part of Solid Gold Dance Party, also featuring Thelma Houston, A Taste of Honey, Peaches and Herb, France Joli and Anita Ward.
Prices: $77, $62, $47 - Reserved Seats
Click Here To Buy Tickets, visit the Hard Rock Live box office, or call: 954-523-3309 Broward, 305-358-5885 Dade, 561-966-3309 Palm Beach
12th Annual GLBTQ Youth Prom is taking place Saturday June 9th from 6pm-12am at
Temple Israel in Miami and we invite you to join the party!!
The theme is "Arabian Nights" and we expect around 250 GLBTQ youth and their straight allies ages 13-20 from all over South Florida to attend. Youth are encouraged to bring who they really want to bring to their Prom in a safe, supportive and fun atmosphere (See attached flier).
Here are two ways you can join the fun and support South Florida's next generation of GLBTQ adults:
1) Be a GLBTQ Youth Prom Adult Chaperone!! If you're 24 yrs of age or above please consider joining us chaperoning this wonderful event. Please contact Pridelines Executive Director Vivian Marthell (email@example.com or 305-807-7304) ASAP. Vivian and the youth need to plan ahead where adult volunteers will be stationed throughout the evening. A mandatory training will be taking place 5pm the day of the Prom at Temple Israel.
2) Become a Sponsor!! You can support this awesome event by donating at one of five levels (or higher!!) from "Magic Lamp" to "Aladdin" to "Scheherazade"!! (The sponsorship info is attached.)
Your contributions make a significant difference for Pridelines allowing us to continue providing programming that educates and nurtures the GLBTQ youth we serve. We invite you to click this link now:
You can also call Vivian with your donation at 305-807-7304. The deadline is Monday June 4th for including names in the program and signage at the Prom.
We invite individuals, families, businesses, groups and organizations to invest in Pridelines Youth and join us as we celebrate our 25th anniversary!
Please call or email us if we can answer any further questions. Thanks for your support!!
p.s. Donations for the Prom attendees "goodie bags" are welcomed too!! And if you know of someone who can donate a chocolate fountain (along w/someone to staff the fountain throughout the evening) please let us know!
Harry E Congdon, LCSW
Chair, Board of Directors
O'Donovan was greeted with kindness - and a prescription to chart the frequency of his sexual thoughts; fasting and praying when the urges came were suggested as a means of willing them away.
"He didn't know what to do," O'Donovan said of his teacher, who is now a church elder. "He was a super-nice guy, but just misinformed and all he had was the church handbook to go by."
Raised a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, O'Donovan, a writer and historian, served a church mission and married in the church's Salt Lake City Temple. He came out in 1985 and eventually left the faith, unable to reconcile his gay identity with the teachings of the church.
"I had to throw the baby out with the bath water. I started from scratch and rebuilt myself," he said in an interview with The Associated Press last week. "I decided that I can use the word grace, but in a different way."
Last Sunday, the 43-year-old O'Donovan gave the keynote address at the 30th anniversary of Affirmation, a support group for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Mormons in Salt Lake City.
Founded in Provo by a handful of students from the church-owned Brigham Young University, Affirmation grew out of concern over the increasing number of suicides among gay Mormons and from the frustration of living a closeted life. Today, the group, which is not recognized by or connected to the church, has chapters across the United States, in Australia, Canada, England, Italy and South Korea.
For many, Affirmation is the first place they connect with other gay Mormons.
"They helped me through in the beginning," said Buckley Jeppson, 48, a gay Mormon who lives in Washington, D.C. "That was useful. It was the first time I actually knew I wasn't the only person out there. It's comforting."
Officially, the Mormon church has taught that homosexuality is a sin and that traditional marriage is an institution ordained by God. In the 1990s, church elders modified that position to differentiate between homosexual orientation - same-gender attraction as they call it - and having an active gay sex life.
"The sin is in yielding to temptation," Elder Dallin H. Oaks said in an interview conducted by a public relations officer posted on the church Web site earlier this year.
Church officials declined to be interviewed for this story, instead referring the AP to the interview with Oaks and Elder Lance B. Wickman.
"What we know is that feelings can be controlled and behavior can be controlled," Oaks said.
Church President Gordon B. Hinckley has said gays who remain celibate can continue to enjoy full membership in the church, a standard seen in other faith traditions.
Affirmation's Salt Lake Chapter President Duane Jennings sees both positions as baby steps of progress. "They used to teach that the thoughts were evil," he said.
And there is other progress, Jennings said, beginning with the acknowledgment by leadership that they don't fully understand "these problems."
Marriage was once offered as a "cure" for homosexuality, but leaders now discourage that so women will not be married under false pretenses, Jennings said, adding that change has not been widely publicized since it was first announced in 1986.
It's almost impossible to imagine the church recognizing gay marriage. In fact, in the Web interview Oaks states clearly that "there is no such thing in the Lord's eyes as same-gender marriage."
Civil unions with legal protections equal to those in marriages also seem unlikely to win support. Wickham hedges a bit, saying church leaders have no position on legislation that might offer some lesser, limited rights.
What the church should do, Jennings said, is try to find a more honorable place in the church for gays who are living in celibacy, and for those in monogamous domestic partnerships, allowing them to remain in the church without fear of excommunication.
"It would go a long way in not creating such negative feelings in both gays and lesbians and their families," he said.
O'Donovan, who years ago was a self-described "angry radical gay activist," founded Queer Nation Utah and staged protests during the faith's twice-yearly general conference, agrees progress has been made but remains frustrated that the church continues to believe homosexuality is a temporary condition. What he wants from church leaders is repentance and an acknowledgment that while gay Mormons may not "fit" in with the church, they could find what he did in Affirmation - a place where he was welcomed, valued and respected.
O'Donovan has written that he sees gays and lesbians as metaphors for angels on earth.
"A big part of our purpose here is to see how people will treat us," he said. "And we don't have a very good report."
News release from HRC:
“The state of New Hampshire can now proudly be counted among the one out of every five states in this country that are leading the way in recognizing the love and commitment of all couples,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.
WASHINGTON — Today, New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch signed into law a bill allowing same-sex couples to enter into civil unions which would provide for legal recognition of those relationships in the state of New Hampshire. When the bill goes into effect, New Hampshire will become the 10th state in the nation, along with the District of Columbia, that provides at least some form of state-level relationship recognition for same-sex couples.
Last month, the New Hampshire state Legislature passed the civil unions bill through the Senate by a vote of 14 to 10 and in the House of Representatives by a bipartisan vote of 243 to 129.
“The state of New Hampshire can now proudly be counted among the one out of every five states in this country that are leading the way in recognizing the love and commitment of all couples,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “Governor Lynch and the Legislature have taken an important stand on the side of fairness, and by doing so New Hampshire is now helping move our country even closer to the realization of equality.
“This law is a significant step toward giving all New Hampshire families the rights, responsibilities and protections they need,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “Thanks to the Legislature, Governor John Lynch and countless supporters of fairness across the state, all New Hampshire families will be significantly more protected by this new civil unions law.”
Solmonese continued, “This is a major step toward ensuring equality for all families. The conversation about marriage and the rights and protections only it provides will continue. As we are doing across the country, we will continue to tell the stories of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender families in New Hampshire so that soon there will be no need for two lines at the town clerk’s office — one for GLBT families and one for everybody else.”
“It is my hope that New Hampshire’s successful effort will serve as inspiration across the nation that it can be done. This positive result proves that direct involvement in elections makes a real difference. Were it not for the significant support from the Human Rights Campaign, we would not be celebrating today’s victory,” said Ray Buckley, New Hampshire’s Democratic Party chair.
“This is not a state that believes in discrimination. And once people understood that same-gender couples were being denied rights like hospital visitations and the right to inherit the homes they’d shared with their loved ones — stories like that opened our eyes. And once your eyes are opened, you can’t close them again. This is the right thing to do,” said New Hampshire Senate President Sylvia Larsen, D-Concord.
Larsen noted that New Hampshire was one of the first states to oppose slavery and, later, to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. New Hampshire also is among the minority of states in amending its constitution (in 1974) to prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, creed, color, sex or national origin.
Ten states plus Washington, D.C., now have laws providing at least some form of state-level relationship recognition for same-sex couples. Vermont, Connecticut and New Jersey have civil unions laws similar to New Hampshire’s. California and Oregon have domestic partnership laws which grant a broad spectrum of state-level rights, benefits and responsibilities to same-sex couples (Oregon’s domestic partnership law becomes effective in January 2008). Three other states — Hawaii, Maine and Washington state — and Washington, D.C., recognize same-sex relationships and offer a handful of rights to same-sex couples (Washington state’s law becomes effective July 22, 2008). Only Massachusetts gives same-sex couples the full right to marriage, and even in Massachusetts, the federal Defense of Marriage Act has blocked same-sex couples from receiving equal federal rights, benefits and responsibilities.
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against GLBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.
E-mail from South Florida writer/editor Neil Plakcy:
Meet me at Borders.
Well, it's not as catchy as "Meet Me in St. Louis," but then, I do a lousy Judy Garland imitation.
Fortunately, I won't be singing-- but I will be talking about the state of gay publishing at Borders Books & Music, 2240 E. Sunrise Boulevard in Ft. Lauderdale (next to the Galleria.) Join me on Thursday June 7 at 6:30 pm.
There's a lot of bad news in the world of gay publishing-- independent bookstores closing, publishers in financial straits-- but at the same time there have never been more opportunities for gay writers.
I've published short stories, novels, essays, and book reviews, and I've edited a great collection of essays by gay men about their relationship with their dogs. I'm currently editing an erotica collection and preparing for the publication this summer of my next Hawaii mystery, MAHU SURFER.
If you're in the neighborhood, stop by to say hello.
SARASOTA -- Steve Stanton was fired as city manager in Largo two months ago after announcing his plans to become Susan Stanton. On Wednesday, Stanton, wearing a white skirt, pumps and makeup, applied for the top job in this cosmopolitan tourist town, and was turned down.
The Sarasota city commissioners instead picked another one of the five candidates. Stanton was their third choice.
''It's just too soon. It's too soon for a transgendered city manager. ... I just don't think the world is ready just yet,'' the 48-year-old Stanton said as she made a hasty exit from City Hall.
Commissioner Ken Shelin disagreed. Shelin said the determining factor was the winning candidate's ``quiet leadership.''
Stanton ''made it into the top three,'' Shelin said. ``She got serious consideration. She made, clearly, a very strong impression on all of us. There were favorable comments from all the commissioners.''
Earlier this year, the Largo City Commission voted 5-2 to fire Stanton from the $140,000-a-year job after 14 years of generally excellent evaluations. Hundreds of people for and against transsexual rights packed the chambers, and dozens of police officers were posted to keep the peace. In the end, commissioners said it was Stanton's judgment and honesty, not his impending sex change, that prompted their decision.
Things were much calmer in Sarasota, about 50 miles south of Largo on Florida's southwestern coast.
Largo, with a population of 76,000, is a working-class community in the Tampa Bay area. Sarasota's 54,000 residents are generally more affluent, and has a thriving arts scene.
Sarasota is the home of New College of Florida, where the 750 students take classes without grades and design their own curriculum. The city is also home to the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, which has a collection of Old Masters bought by the circus tycoon.
Sarasota is also where Stanton spent much of her secret life as Susan before going public, spending several weekends a year there dressed in women's clothing.
''We need to put a little pepper in the atmosphere,'' said Sarasota resident Gwen Calloway, 70, who supported Stanton. ``She has the background. She can start running instead of walking. She has proved she's accomplished.''
The five candidates for city manager were interviewed separately at an open meeting, during which no one spoke against Stanton. A few police officers watched over the few citizens who sat through the job interviews.
The commissioners hesitated to bring up the one topic on nearly everyone's mind -- Stanton's plans to undergo sex change surgery someday soon and complete the process started when Stanton recently began living as a woman.
So Stanton brought it up.
Stanton said that having a transsexual city manager would not be as disruptive as they might think. She said that the recuperation time for a sex change operation is minimal and that, if hired, she would step back from the national spotlight.
''It's a legitimate concern and hopefully I've addressed it,'' Stanton, who has started hormone therapy, said in her somewhat deep voice before the vote. ``I have taken the initiative to throw it out and maybe remove it from the table.''
The five commissioners ultimately voted to hire Robert Bartolotta, 59, who resigned as city manager of Jupiter in 2004 to care for his terminally ill wife. She has since died. Their second choice was Marsha Segal-George, 54, a deputy chief administrator in Orlando.
Stanton, whose large biceps stand out when she wears short-sleeve dresses, said before the vote that she did not believe the sex change would be a factor in the city's decision. And she said many residents stopped her to express support as she explored the city in the days leading up to Wednesday's vote.
''Not a single person has focused on what I wear, the type of shoes I have on or the type of necklace I am wearing. It's just not an issue,'' Stanton said before the vote.
Stanton, the father of a teenage son, said the intense media scrutiny made the Sarasota interview cumbersome. A scrum of cameras and reporters made her easy to spot at a crowded Tuesday night reception for the candidates. A photographer followed her to the threshold of the women's restroom.
The scrutiny is ''part of the price of admission,'' Stanton said before the vote.
''The job of a city manager, while critical, is extremely uninteresting,'' she added. ``I am pretty confident that within two or three weeks the media is going to find something that is a real story. But not this. This is silly.''
Photo: Susan Stanton is swarmed by the media as she leaves the Sarasota City Hall on Wednesday, May 30, 2007, in Sarasota, Fla., after learning that Robert Bartolotta was chosen as city manager. (AP Photo/Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Dan Wagner)
Multitalented multidisciplinarian David Hyde Pierce (best known for playing Niles on Frasier) has found success on Broadway, on television, and on the big screen -- and although his sexuality has always been an open secret within the artistic community (much like Neil Patrick Harris), he has been reticent to speak to the topic publicly -- as is his right. In fact, our own Brent Hartinger did the first interview with Pierce after Frasier debuted and was told, "Basically, I don't talk about my personal life."
That's why it's so surprising to see reference made to his "partner" made in a recent AP story on Pierce that hit CNN.com recently, among other places. The story notes:
"He worked at Playwrights Horizons, the Public Theater, Shakespeare in the Park and a lot of regional theaters such as the Guthrie in Minneapolis, Chicago's Goodman and Long Wharf in New Haven, Conn. Pierce got to Los Angeles in the early 1990s when his partner, actor-writer-producer Brian Hargrove, wanted to write for television."
The mention is buried a dozen paragraphs in, so it's very easy to miss -- to be sure that the reference is accurate and was intended, AfterElton.com contacted Pierce's representation, who confirmed that Hargrove is indeed Pierce's life partner. It's interesting that this quiet yet enormous step was taken shortly after Pierce was essentially outed by Michael Musto in his "Glass Closet" article that accompanied Out magazine's controversial "Gay Power List" piece. Is this another situation where a gay celeb was pushed out before he was ready (see also: Lance Bass, T.R. Knight, Neil Patrick Harris)?
Whatever the cause, we want to applaud Pierce for feeling comfortable enough to have his sexuality discussed in stories about him (and on a more personal note, as a fan, I'm thrilled to have him on the team!). He's currently appearing on Broadway in his Tony-nominated role in Curtains, and I'm sure he'd love to be mobbed by his gay fans at the stage door! We're also hoping to do an interview with Pierce in the very near future.