The Independent Alligator in Gainesville has an interesting story about University of Florida students objecting to the FDA’s longstanding ban on blood donations by sexually active gay men, “Community reacts to ban on blood donations from gay men."
Along with the article, The Alligator also has an editorial, “Bad Blood: FDA should not restrict gay men from donating.” From the editorial:
Ultimately, these regulations represent yet another facet of life that is unequal for gay people. The guidelines may have been enacted with the health of all Americans in mind, but the fact that they were enacted in a time of panic and bigotry is undeniable.
If a ban like this were placed on virtually any other group, there would be widespread anger and protest, but because of the long-standing stigma — perpetuated by the ban itself — it goes largely unchallenged.
We believe that it’s time to stop perpetuating this false stereotype and accept the gracious blood donations of any and all healthy donors.
Lifesaving does not have a sexual preference.”
Sin City isn't teeming with gay businesses, but its anything-goes attitude and big, gay marketing push attract LGBT travelers in spades.
BY LOANN HALDEN, Special to The Miami Herald
There's always been something a little bit queer about Las Vegas, dating to the drag queens who performed at the Kit Kat Club in the 1940s and a bedazzled Liberace becoming the city's highest-paid entertainer when he appeared at the Riviera Hotel in 1955.
But as Las Vegas tossed in the chips on its gamblers-only image in favor of sleek luxury hotels and award-winning chefs, gay travelers started paying more attention -- and the marketing blitz to woo them ignited. Resorts created gay-specific ad campaigns, Krave, the Strip's first gay nightclub, opened in fall 2004 and a gay pool party at Luxor launched this summer.
Yet, the gay scene still pulsates largely beneath Sin City's skin -- in the homoerotic tangos of Cirque du Soleil's acrobats or the stage spectacles of gay icons like Cher and Bette Midler -- rather than blazing in rainbow lights on the Strip. The city's lone all-gay guesthouse and most of its gay bars are tucked away from Las Vegas Boulevard.
Las Vegas is the rare resort town to make frequent appearances in top 10 lists of the most popular U.S. gay destinations without having a highly visible gayborhood. Rashad Robinson, who oversees the Advertising Media Program for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, says the city is savvy about showcasing its diverse attractions and activities to appeal to the diversity of the gay community.
In the past 18 months, Las Vegas has hosted major gay events ranging from the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association's annual convention to the Bigger Vegas/Convergence 2009 gathering, which brought 800 plus-sized gay travelers and their admirers to town.
WHERE TO STAYMost of the major Strip hotels are gay-friendly, but the light-infused, 2,034-suite Encore, the 2009 addition to the Wynn resort complex (styled under the discriminating eye of Wynn's gay executive vice president of design, Roger Thomas), gets bonus points for launching the first on-site LGBT concierge service.
At the opposite end of the Strip, Mandalay Bay, aka ``Mandalay Gay,'' and its sexy, casino-free sibling, THEhotel, have maintained their gay cred. THEhotel's opening in 2003 heralded the Strip shift from adult-Disney-style theme resorts to modern luxury, as epitomized in its Zen-cool, gay-popular spa, the bathhouse.
A planned room makeover should give Luxor a much-needed aesthetic boost, but in the interim, the more affordable choice has hosted recurring gay parties in its bordello-style CatHouse resto-lounge and its adults-only pool.
The men-only Blue Moon Resort is a friendly, cruisy and casual alternative for those seeking an all-gay stay off the Strip (rental car recommended); day passes available.
DININGWhile there's no one spot where gay diners congregate on the Strip, it's comfortable cozying up to a same-sex partner wherever a marquee-name chef showcases his or her dishes -- the seismic shift from $3.95 buffets to haute cuisine clearly raised the gay comfort level.
Some noteworthy examples: MGM's L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, the more relaxed (though still pricey), Michelin-star restaurant from the French wunderkind, with an open kitchen and a particularly attractive staff; and Border Grill at Mandalay Bay, which showcases the environmentally conscious Mexican creations of Food Network's Too Hot Tamales, Mary Sue Milliken and out lesbian Susan Feniger. Paris' Mon Ami Gabi café attracts gay brunch fans with its build-your-own Bloody Mary bar and Strip-side view of Bellagio's dancing fountain.
NIGHTLIFEFrom Cher to showgirls, the gay-flavored entertainment options are endless. Cirque du Soleil's Zumanity, known for its same-sex pairings, recently launched a commitment ceremony package in honor of Nevada's new domestic partnership legislation; it includes a ceremony in Luxor's wedding chapel, a stay at New York-New York and show tickets.
The only gay bar option on the Strip -- and it's a good one -- is Krave, a mega-club reminiscent of South Beach's gay heyday; the small lounge next door holds the lesbian party CandyBar on Saturdays. Sin City Q Socials hosts a martini reception for gay professionals every Tuesday at rotating locations.
A cluster of off-Strip gay clubs sit among the somewhat seedy strip malls at Paradise Road and Naples Drive, aka ``The Fruit Loop.'' Top weekend draw is Piranha/8 ½ Lounge, a sprawling multi-room space that attracts an ethnically diverse mix of locals and tourists (only out-of-towners pay cover). Gipsy, which hosts drag shows; Levi-leather bar Buffalo; and Freezone, a dive bar with the largest lesbian following of the bunch, are within walking distance.
DAYTIME ADVENTURESIn response to Las Vegas's exploding (but hetero-dominated) adults-only pool party scene, Sunkissed Sundays brought a gay pool party to Luxor this year, and is scheduled to return to the Strip in May 2010.
Gay-friendly Pink Jeep Tours transport small groups into the nearby natural beauty of Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire or the Grand Canyon.
Longtime lesbian tour operator Babs Daitch, with the aid of gay historian Dennis McBride, created the ``Gays Gone By'' tour through Las Vegas's queer history. Available for groups of four or more, its multiple stops include Snick's Place, the city's oldest gay bar, the Liberace Museum and the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada.
Caption: The Luxor hosts a gay pool party. LOANN HALDEN / LOANN HALDEN
GOING TO LAS VEGAS
HOTELS• Encore, 3131 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702-770-8000 or 888-320-7125; www.encorelasvegas.com/pride. Rates from $199.
• Mandalay Bay/THEhotel, 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 877-632-7800; www.mandalaybay.com. Rates from $109.
• Luxor, 3900 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702-262-4444 or 877-386-4658; www.luxor.com/lgbt. Rates from $45.
• Blue Moon Resort, 2651 Westwood Dr.; 702-784-4500; www.bluemoonlv.com. Rates from $119.
DINING• Border Grill at Mandalay Bay, 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702-632-7403; www.bordergrill.com. Entrees $18-$34.
• L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon at MGM Grand, 3799 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702-891-7358; www.mgmgrand.com/restaurants. Entrees $38-$70.
• Mon Ami Gabi at Paris Resort, 3655 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702-944-4224; www.monamigabi.com/vegas. Entrees $13-$40.NIGHTLIFE• Krave/CandyBar at Planet Hollywood, 3663 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702-836-0830; www.kravelasvegas.com.
• Piranha Nightclub/8 ½ Lounge, 4633 Paradise Road; 702-791-0100; www.piranhavegas.com.
• Zumanity at New York-New York, 3790 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 866-606- 7111; www.zumanity.com.
DAY LIFE• Sunkissed, LGBT pool party, May-September, 2010 location to be determined; www.sunkissedlv.com.
• Thanks Babs, The Day Tripper, LGBT tours, 702-370-6961; www.thanksbabs.com.
• Pink Jeep Tours, 3629 W. Hacienda Ave.; 702- 895-6777 or 888-900- 4480; www.pinkjeep.com.
INFORMATION• Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, www.visitlasvegas.com (click on gay travel under ``features'').
• Sin City Q Socials, www.sincityqsocials.com.
• QVegas Magazine, www.qvegas.com.
About 2,000 partygoers Saturday night attended the 25th annual White Party at Vizcaya benefitting Care Resource, South Florida’s oldest and largest AIDS/HIV resource center. VIP attendees included hostess Elaine Lancaster and singing star Kristine W., pictured third and second from right. Kristine performs Sunday night at Noche Blanca.
Here are dozens of pictures from the event. All photos by STEVE ROTHAUS / Miami Herald Staff
By LISA LEFF, Associated Press
SAN FRANCISCO -- Leland Traiman, who runs a sperm bank in California, worries about his lesbian clients in more conservative parts of the country when he hears fellow gay rights activists talk about winning the right to wed.
With 34 states lacking any legal recognition of same-sex relationships, Traiman wonders if all the emphasis on matrimony is misplaced.
"When I speak to women from Florida or Wisconsin or Minnesota, they are like, 'I don't care what it's called, I just want to be able to visit my wife in the hospital and cover my children with my health insurance,'" said Traiman, who helped pass the nation's first domestic partnership law a quarter-century ago in Berkeley.
In the weeks since Maine voters handed the gay marriage movement its 27th electoral defeat in five years, other activists have voiced similar qualms about making marriage their main goal. Gay rights leaders have insisted that anything less than full marriage equality is unacceptable, but some are asking whether the uncompromising strategy has forestalled interim steps that could improve the lives of gay men, lesbians and their families.
"They think the best way to achieve their goal of marriage with all the rights and benefits of marriage is a complete frontal assault, and any other strategy is a betrayal of their goal," Traiman said.
Activists like Traiman point to the success of efforts to extend spousal rights and other civil rights protections to same-sex couples, even as the passage of gay marriage bans grab headlines.
On the same day that Maine rejected a gay marriage law approved by its Legislature, for example, voters in Washington state approved a law giving same-sex couples or straight older couples who register as domestic partners all the state rights and responsibilities of marriage. Washington's so-called "everything but marriage" law passed by the same margin as Maine's gay marriage rebuff, 53 percent to 48 percent.
And earlier this year, Nevada lawmakers overrode a veto by Gov. Jim Gibbons to enact a domestic partnership law extending marriage rights to couples, gay or straight, who "have chosen to share one another's lives in an intimate and committed relationship of mutual caring." Colorado's legislature and governor also adopted a "reciprocal beneficiaries" law providing some legal benefits for all unmarried couples.
Colorado and Nevada are among the 29 states with constitutional prohibitions against gay marriages.
The success of partner measures in those states suggests that there's room for gay couples to secure spousal protections even if they can't marry, said William Dobbs, a veteran activist in New York.
"It's a huge tactical mistake to be arguing that nothing less than marriage will do," Dobbs said. "One size does not fit all.
"There is a real need among some folks to put their lives together, to have joint credit cards, a house and children," he said. "We need a set of actions for that, but the marriage fight is toxic to other types of reforms."
Since 2004, $78 million has been spent on fighting efforts to outlaw same-sex marriage, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics. Out of 28 elections, gay marriage supporters have won only one: when Arizona voters rejected a 2006 measure that would have outlawed domestic partnerships as well as same-sex marriages. Arizona subsequently approved a constitutional ban on gay marriages last year.
Dan Hawes, the head organizer for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, agrees that it makes sense to seek even limited legal protections in states where gay people have none, but disagrees that fighting for marriage has detracted from that work.
"It's not that these fights are mutually exclusive of each other, so that's why we don't think it makes sense to negotiate against ourselves," Hawes said.
State Sen. Ed Murray, a gay Democrat who led the three-year push to introduce and expand Washington's domestic partnership laws, said he had little support from national organizations that thought he was settling for less than full equality. Murray says he still regards marriage as the ultimate goal, but has no regrets about taking an incremental approach.
"We knew we had families who needed immediate help and wanted to give relief to families who needed it while building support in the Legislature on the way to marriage," he said.
A recent member survey by Equality Federation, a network of state-based gay rights groups, showed that passing laws to reduce the bullying of gay students in school and adopting anti-discrimination measures that prevent gay people from losing their jobs or getting evicted are high on the agenda for next year.
"The reality is if people have to fear for keeping their jobs, they cannot stand up and advocate for marriage equality," the federation's executive director, Toni Broaddus, said. "Though we need the full range of rights we are fighting for to include marriage equality, that is not always the best place to start in North Carolina or Texas or many, many states."
Even if activists set their sights on a status short of marriage, there's no guarantee that would diffuse the organized opposition they have faced from religious and social conservatives.
This month, more than 150 Christian conservative leaders published a 4,700-word declaration, pledging to fight any legislative efforts to equate same-sex unions with traditional marriages. In theory, though, the Manhattan Declaration would not oppose extending legal protections to two people in a nonsexual relationship, such as two sisters or even a same-sex couple that abstained from sex, said Robert George, a Princeton law professor who serves as board chairman of the National Organization for Marriage.
"What you couldn't have is ... an explicit reference to partners in intimate relationships because 'intimate' is an euphemism for 'sexual,'" George said. "In that case, all a civil union scheme is a semantic substitute for marriage, or same-sex marriage by another name."
November 28, 2009 | 9:42 am
Mike Penner, the veteran Los Angeles Times sportswriter who made international headlines in 2007 when he announced he was transsexual and began working under the byline "Christine Daniels," has died.
Colleagues said today that Penner was found dead at his Los Angeles home and that suicide was the suspected cause of death. He was 52.
To mark the 25th anniversary of White Party, I interviewed co-founder Jorge Suarez and event historian Bill Mathisen, who co-chaired the party a half-dozen times. Videographer Andrew Richardson recorded and edited the interview. (Photos included in the video courtesy of Suarez and Care Resource.)
Five years ago, for the 20th anniversary, I wrote a detailed report about White Party’s beginnings. Here is the Nov. 2004 article, illustrated with the original White Party poster designed by another one of the founders, former Miami artist Martin Kreloff, now living in California. (Poster courtesy of Kreloff’s partner, Tim Olsen)
Wednesday, November 24, 2004, The Miami Herald, Page 1A
White Party marking 20 years in AIDS fight
BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com
As AIDS decimated their circle of friends in 1984, Frank Wager and Jorge Suarez began planning an event they hoped would raise awareness - and a few dollars - to help fight the virus in South Florida.
They dropped leaflets outside gay bars all over Miami-Dade and Broward counties, got businesses to donate food and liquor and told everyone about the big party at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens in Miami. Sixteen hundred guests, asked to wear white, showed up that Sunday night, Dec. 1, 1985. Each paid $10.
Saturday night, the big party at Vizcaya - now one of the best-known HIV/AIDS fundraisers on the gay party "circuit" - turns 20 and will host about 1,750 guests paying $150 to $225.
Suarez, now 53, will be there. Wager won't. He died at 42 of AIDS complications on June 7, 1994, five months before the 10th White Party.
"One thing Frank wanted to do was reach out to young people, to get out the message about safe sex, " said Barbara Shack, his widow. "And it turned into this fabulous party."
Through the years, White Party has attracted celebrities including Madonna, Calvin Klein, Nell Carter (who sang at the first White Party) and Lorna Luft. Saturday night, drag diva RuPaul performs.
The theme for White Party 2004 is "Universal Love: Heroes & Icons of the Revolution." Organizers encourage guests to dress as their favorites, such as Marie Antoinette, Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor.
"The pressure's on us that it has to be fabulous, " said Rick Siclari, executive director of Care Resource, Florida's largest HIV/AIDS service agency, which produces the White Party.
The one-night fundraiser has evolved into a week of events that kicks off tonight with events in Miami and Miami Beach. Most of the parties are geared to well-heeled gay men from all over the globe, but there are also several events for lesbians.
White Party's early years didn't get much mainstream publicity. "Miami in 1984 was a very different place than it is now, " Suarez said.
Most gays were still in the closet, and AIDS carried a great stigma. The Herald didn't report on the White Party until 1989, and then with a one-paragraph society item.
Wager, a Salvadoran-born real-estate entrepreneur, hadn't yet been diagnosed with HIV when he, Suarez, Shack and their friends planned the first White Party, which would benefit Health Crisis Network (now known as Care Resource). "There was a sense of urgency and a sense that we had to do something because this was happening to us, " Shack said.
She had to get rid of her personal phone book after many of her friends died. "I had to cross off 34 people, and it didn't stop then, " said Shack, 48, who now lives in Austin, Texas. She is the civic-activist daughter of Dade Community Foundation President Ruth Shack.
There were several smaller parties before the first Vizcaya event, the first a June 1985 fundraiser at Wager's Coconut Grove home.
For the first White Party, Miami-Dade County defrayed the Vizcaya rental costs and organizers persuaded local gay bars to donate the liquor.
"That's why the event was held on a Sunday night, because we wouldn't be taking away their clientele on Saturday night, " said Bill Mathisen, a Miami Realtor who chaired six White Parties and is the event's historian.
The original menu wasn't elaborate. "It's embarrassing to say that at the first White Party, we had apples and cookies that some committee member donated, " Suarez said. Everyone tried to outdo their friends by wearing lavish, often sexy, white outfits. Said Shack: "Who needed decorations? The people were the decorations."
By the second year, the White Party committee had established a $15,535 operating budget, including $500 for food. Ticket prices: $20.
White Party week now costs about $300,000 to put on, including about $21,000 to Miami-Dade County for use of Vizcaya. Care Resource expects to net $650,000 to $700,000.
Siclari began running Care Resource in 1998 after Health Crisis Network merged with another AIDS agency, Community Research Initiative. Then, the combined annual budget was $3.8 million. Now it's $6 million.
The number of young people still contracting HIV is what keeps Mathisen heavily involved in White Party.
"My whole mantra was AIDS awareness and to make everyone aware of what was happening, " Mathisen said. "I'm 50 years old. That's 100 percent older than my friends who died at 25."
Eric Mendez, a bioengineering student at Miami Dade College, was born in Miami the same year that Suarez and Wager began planning the first White Party.
On Saturday, Mendez, 20, will attend his first White Party event, White Starz, as a Care Resource volunteer. Since he's under 21, he can't attend as a guest.
Mendez began volunteering at Care Resource while a ninth-grader at Miami Senior High. Until then, he knew no one his age with HIV.
For Mendez, White Party is an optimistic celebration of life, not a remembrance of friends and lovers who died.
"It's more like gay men are getting together because it's Thanksgiving, " he said.
- Audio | Kristine W: 'Be Alright (Hex Hector Master Radio),' from the album 'Be Alright'
- Audio | Kristine W: 'Mr. Christmas,' from the album 'Hey, Mr. Christmas'
- White Party Week official website
BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com
``Music brings people together in ways nothing else can,'' says the one-time beauty queen once known as Kristine Weitz, who performs Sunday at White Party Week's Noche Blanca dance event at Dolce Ultralounge, 1500 Ocean Dr., Miami Beach. ``With music, there seems to be no agenda. It's very freeing. People can listen to a song and express emotions they can't say.''
Kristine, who has a huge gay following, says she looks forward to appearing at the annual big AIDS fundraiser.
``I performed last at the White Party the year I was getting sick,'' says Kristine, 46, diagnosed in 2002 with acute leukemia. ``This is going to be fun.''
Kristine grew up in conservative Washington. She represented the state in the 1982 Miss America pageant, winning a talent award and a preliminary swimsuit competition.
``I was always very liberal. I was accepting of everyone,'' she says, adding that in parts of Washington state, it's still hard for gay people to be out.
``It's more cowboyish,'' she says. ``Brokeback Mountain.''
From the beginning of her singing career, Kristine nurtured her gay following. ``It was hard 12 years ago when I started in the music business. ``It was hard to embrace the gays at the record labels.''
Everyone warned her: ``That's career suicide. You need to be mainstream, mainstream.''
Times apparently have changed. ``Now, Lady Gaga is all about working it,'' Kristine says.
During her illness, at the height of Queer As Folk's TV popularity, Kristine filmed a music video featuring the series' cast.
``I was really sick at that time. I had a stem-cell transplant. You wouldn't have known it, but I had to lay down on the floor in the back. I was bald then, so I had all those wigs. The Queer As Folk cast didn't know at the time,'' she says. ``I was living it every day and this was my chance to have fun and not think about it. That was how I coped.''
Kristine lives in Las Vegas with son J.R., 9, daughter Elizabeth, 10, and the children's father, a farmer.
Last spring, Kristine took the kids to the Miss USA beauty pageant, where judge Perez Hilton famously asked Miss California, Carrie Prejean, about her stand on gay marriage.
``I thought the question was so inappropriate for a pageant. . . . My kids were there and they have 4,000 gay uncles. But they're all classy and they don't talk about sex in front of kids,'' she says. ``[Hilton] seemed like an evil queen. I thought, `Oh no, America's going to think all my guys are evil queens.' ''
The 25th annual White Party at Vizcaya is Saturday night, but a full holiday weekend of events is in full swing. Here are pictures I took Friday at the National Hotel in South Beach, the official hotel and reception center of White Party Weekend; along Collins Avenue outside the hotel; and at Macy’s off Lincoln Road, where the store has set up a large White Party-theme display.
All photos by STEVE ROTHAUS / Miami Herald Staff
From Edison Farrow:
South Beach's New Friday Night!
Galaxy Fridays is South Beach's hot new Friday night party. Edison Farrow presents this exciting new event directly across the street from where his infamous "Euphoria Fridays at Jade Lounge" took place.
This amazing venue is located above Casale, on the corner of 18th Street and Bay Road in Sunset Harbour, and has two rooms. There is a beautiful Lounge with a bar and a DJ. There is also a Rooftop Lounge overlooking the Sunset Harbour Marina which features a bar and lounge seating. (This venue was once the Dulce de Leche showroom and CPO Consignment.)
Ketel One Vodka bottle special $150.
(Coliseum, VooDoo, Splash NY, Winter Party, White Party)
No cover charge!
Doors open at 9:30pm.
Please arrive before 11pm to avoid waiting in line!
1800 Bay Road
(across from Jade Lounge / B&B)