From The White House:
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 31, 2011
Attached is a proclamation signed by the President today regarding Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month.
Steve Rothaus' Gay South Florida - for and about (but not just) LGBT people
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From The White House:
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 31, 2011
Attached is a proclamation signed by the President today regarding Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month.
They’ve bullied and taunted her, calling her names and writing on her locker.
And now, the seniors at McFatter Technical High School have elected Andrew Viveros their 2011 prom queen.
“They called my name and I was in total shock,’’ said Andrew, a 17-year-old who was born male but has publicly presented herself as female for the last two years.
With her long wavy brown hair, Andrew wore a royal blue dress and got a fresh manicure for the Friday night dance.
Andrew, also known as Andii, plans to someday change her name to Andrea. She wanted to run for prom queen in order to show other transgender teens “it gets better.”
She ran against 14 others.
Andrew said some McFatter teens pleaded with school management not to allow her to run for queen.
“Many students have started a petition to have me removed from the ballot,” Andrew wrote last week in a Facebook message. “They also are outraged and say I am making a mockery of prom, because I am going in an evening gown.”
Last year, school officials suggested Andrew not dress as a female in class and to “tone it down,” she said.
“This year we got a new principal and she’s very supportive of me,” Andrew said, even encouraging her to run for prom queen. “She said “Stay in the running. Don’t back down for anything.’”
McFatter seniors who voted Friday night also chose a prom king: Juan Macias, a 17-year-old gay male senior.
Before the big night, Andrew’s father, Oscar Viveros, bought her a gown, shoes and makeup.
“My parents support me. They always have,” said Andrew, the oldest of four siblings.
“I’ve always loved him unconditionally,” said Oscar Viveros, who still uses male pronouns when talking about Andrew. “I’ve told my other kids, they have to support him. He thinks he’s a girl in a man’s body. In school, he hears this and that, but I’ve made sure in our house he’s free to act and do whatever makes him comfortable.”
Viveros, 46, a supervisor at a private garbage-collection company in Fort Lauderdale, said his co-workers aren’t as tolerant.
“I’ve got guys at work who say, ‘Oh, you didn’t beat him up?’’’ Viveros said. “I love him too much.”
Viveros said he and his wife, Bernadette, 42, view Andrew as a straight female.
“He doesn’t consider himself gay. He likes men. I understand that. He’s just in the wrong body,’’ said Viveros, who recalls a young Andrew wanting to try on Cinderella’s dress at Disney World.
“I’d tell him, ‘You’re a boy,’’’ Viveros said. “He’d try it on anyway. He was happy.”
Life as a transgender teen is a challenge, Andrew says.
Some McFatter students have taunted her, “but they know not to mess with me,” she said.
“I’ve filed bullying reports over and over again with people. I’ve had many incidents. People would call me ‘faggot.’ People would write on my locker, repeatedly.
“The looks you get going out, you have to deal with that. They are going to look at you because you’re different,” Andrew said. “Applying for jobs is hard. If you’re going to apply, you can’t be who you are.”
Andrew now plans to attend Broward College and get a degree in culinary arts management.
Oscar Viveros has advice for other parents with gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender children:
“Let them grow to be whatever they want to be, as long as they’re good,” Viveros said. “Let them blossom into whatever they want to be. Support them 100 percent.”
May 30, 2011 in Arts, Bisexual, Bullying, Business, Current Affairs, Fashion, Florida, Fort Lauderdale & Broward County, Gay, Lesbian, LGBT, Media, Miami & Miami-Dade County, Miami Beach, Palm Beach County, Politics, Religion, South Florida, Transgender, Weblogs, Wilton Manors, Workplace, Youth | Permalink | Comments (108) | TrackBack (0)
Army Lt. Dan Choi, discharged under Don't Ask, Don't Tell, was among 30 protestors (including 18 gay activists) arrested Saturday during a gay-rights demonstration in Moscow.
"WE WILL NOT DISAPPEAR!" Choi posted Sunday on his Facebook page.
From the White House on Sunday:
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
For Immediate Release May 29, 2011
STATEMENT BY MARK TONER, DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON
Concern about Freedom of Assembly in Russia
We note with concern that in Moscow on Saturday, May 28, a peaceable demonstration of Russians advocating for the rights of gays and lesbians, joined by international supporters, was forcefully disrupted by counter-protesters, and that Russian security forces then detained people from both groups, including American citizens. Some protestors were seriously injured according to media reports.
Freedom of assembly is a fundamental right all members of the OSCE committed to, including in the Moscow declaration and as recently as the Astana summit. As nationwide legislative elections approach, constraints on the ability of Russian citizens peacefully to gather and express their views will be closely watched in evaluating the integrity of the electoral process. We call on Russian authorities to work with municipal officials to find better ways to safeguard these fundamental freedoms.
BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com
Since Monday, about a half-million Gay South Florida readers have viewed Herb Sosa's open letter to Miami Beach Mayor Matti Herrera Bower, the Beach commission and "concerned citizens" about Urban Weekend.
Sosa says he's shocked that the blog post went viral, thanks in great part to it being a lead story on The Drudge Report.
"It went crazy," Sosa said Tuesday morning. "People are pissed off. They're upset, What's the right way to take care of the city?"
Sosa, president of Unity Coalition, Miami-Dade County's leading Hispanic gay-rights group, said he's concerned some people have called him racist, after he demanded an end to Urban Weekend.
"It has nothing to do with racism," said Sosa, who lives in South Beach. "It's a lack of respect for the city they're visiting. It's as simple as that. This morning, there were six cars parked on my block with their mirrors ripped off, their antennas ripped off.
"The suggestion that this is a racist issue ... is absolutely ridiculous. If anything, the city of Miami Beach as been more than accommodating to Urban Weekend."
Sosa, an activist who once was executive director of Miami Design Preservation League and the Art Deco Weekend Festival, has asked residents to attend Wednesday's Miami Beach Commission meeting to voice their opinions about Urban Weekend.
He may not be there, however.
"This is not about me," Sosa said. "I'm not sure if I'm going to go the commission meeting or not. ... Yes, I'm passionate about this but it's not my sole cause."
An open letter from activist Herb Sosa, who is president of Unity Coalition, Miami-Dade County's largest Hispanic gay-rights group:
Esteemed Miami Beach Mayor, Commissioners & concerned citizens.
Please view the attached YouTube video (one of many) already posted for the world to see, about Memorial/Urban Weekend 2011 in Miami Beach. http://youtu.be/cjxxGBJmOqQ
It shows our city as nothing short of a warzone - Filthy streets, a drive by shooting, multiple cars crashed in the process, and total chaos on the streets. This is unacceptable and must be controlled before we totally lose our city, tourism & residents. It is not limited to Ocean Drive or Collins - there isn't a residential street in South Beach not affected by tons of garbage, crime to our vehicles, excessive noise 24 hours a day, and simply a lack of respect for our community, citizens & property. THIS is the image the world see of our "American Riviera".
When did perceived political or social correctness override the safety & well-being of a community? This is not a race, economic or ethnic issue, it is an issue of visitors who have a total lack of respect for our community, its property & citizens. I know hotel rooms are filled, but at what price and for how long? How many events, meetings, conventions & vacations have been CANCEELLED because of this nightmare we endure each Memorial Day? Almost everyone who lives her that I know, get out of Miami Beach for Memorial Day - including many of you - because of this unruly & dangerous mob that we seem to invite back every year and turn a blind eye to the irreparable damage they leave behind.
If this was PRIDE weekend, The Boat Show, Fashion Week or Art Deco Weekend - would we allow this to go on each year? I am certain that if the real numbers of cost & crime are compared with like events we host throughout the year - Memorial/Urban Weekend is tenfold the headache, cost & damage of any of them. IS IT ALL WORTH IT FOR OUR CITY MANAGEMENT?
I am not willing to wait another year to see how many more people will be killed; how many more hotel rooms will be trashed; how many more cars & homes will be broken into; how many more residents need to leave in fear of hide in their homes for their safety; how much more police, fire rescue, sanitation & additional security dollars need to be spent to try & keep our city safe & livable for all each Memorial Weekend? - a Hell of a way for Miami Beach to honor our soldiers. Every resident & voter I speak to mentions Memorial/Urban Weekend as one of the top major problems our city has, when considering elections & our leaders - PLEASE TAKE NOTE, make the difficult but correct decision to put an end to Urban Weekend in Miami Beach and help us SAVE OUR CITY. We are not Disney or Universal. We cannot close a gate at night & go home. We ARE home, and inviting & accommodating the world to come and share our paradise - not destroy it and hold us hostage in the process. Unruly and unlawful visitors are NOT WELCOME in Miami Beach.
Miami Beach, Florida
From Eric Dasilva:
Sunday May 29th, 2011:
***Memorial Day weekend at Gryphon Nightclub***
A royal night to remember with Grammy award winning producer & world famous DJ Peter Rauhofer at Gryphon!!!
Hosted by Milancita, Alex Prieto & Ryan Work.
~Door by the one and only, Alan T~
Tickets available at: www.wantickets.com/gryphon
For VIP table reservations and/or additional information, please call 305.747.2428 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Update from director Jerry Jensen:
We are definitely extending through June 26. Performances Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 7:30 only on June 18 & 25, and Sundays at 7:00 pm (but no performance on June 19 - Stonewall Festival).
Two Boys in a Bed On a Cold Winter's Night, a two-character play by James Edwin Parker, is performed Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights through June 12 26 at Rising Action Theatre at Sunshine Cathedral in Fort Lauderdale.
Above, director Jerry Jensen is flanked by stars Nigel Revenge and Angel Perez following the May 22 performance.
Click the photo to view a gallery from the performance. All photos by STEVE ROTHAUS / Miami Herald Staff.
From the theater website:
Warning: Contains male nudity
Sponsored by: Oakland Park Dental - Dr. Howard Cunningham DDS
May 13 - June 12 26, 2011
Fridays at 8:00 p.m.
Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.
Sundays at 7:00 p.m. (No performance June 19)
Individual Shows: $35.00
DINNER AND SHOW PACKAGES AVAILABLE FOR $60
Either At Old Heidelberg,
900 State Route 84, Ft. Lauderdale
Or At Tropics Restaurant,
2000 Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors
Three Course Dinner and Beverage
(Tax, Tip, Alcoholic Beverages not included)
May 29, 2011 in AIDS and Health, Arts, Bisexual, Business, Current Affairs, Florida, Fort Lauderdale & Broward County, Gay, Lesbian, LGBT, Media, Miami & Miami-Dade County, Miami Beach, Politics, Religion, South Florida, Theater, Transgender, Weblogs, Wilton Manors, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
Just days after settling the lawsuits filed by four young men who used to attend New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, the message was one of progress and prosperity to the several hundred gathered. The choir opened the two-hour 8 a.m. service with the gospel hymn "Moving Forward," which began: "I'm not going back, I'm moving ahead. Here to declare to you my past is over."
Long addressed a far smaller group than the one gathered back in September, when he compared himself to the Bible's ultimate underdog and vowed to fight like David versus Goliath against accusations that he abused his spiritual authority and coerced four young men into sexual relationships with gifts including cars, cash and travel. Then, thousands of supporters and observers packed the 10,000-seat sanctuary, which took on the atmosphere of an arena.
After Sunday's opening hymn, the service was decidedly focused on the church, not its controversial leader. For months, the scandal tainted Long's reputation as an influential spiritual leader who transformed his suburban Atlanta congregation of 150 into a following of 25,000 members and an international televangelist empire that included athletes, entertainers and politicians.
Long did not address the allegations or the settlement from the pulpit. Details of the resolution have not been disclosed.
In a statement released last week, New Birth seemed eager to begin a new chapter.
"This decision was made to bring closure to this matter and to allow us to move forward with the plans God has for this ministry," the statement read.
Goldie Taylor, a social commentator on African-American issues who lives near the church, said the subdued atmosphere came as no surprise to her.
"He has fractured a body of Christ," she said. "He continues to lead what is a declining congregation. I think he owes it to them to participate, if he can, in their healing. Whether he can or not is really up to his congregation. Leading sometimes means walking away."
Long, who has been a vocal opponent of gay marriage, built his empire with charisma and a prosperity Gospel message that told followers God would reward the faithful with wealth. It was an idea he embodied, sporting jewels on stage, living in a mansion and driving a luxury car.
The bishop was well-regarded in Lithonia, just outside Atlanta in DeKalb County, home to one of the most affluent African-American communities in the U.S. His presence at the church projected an image of strength and fatherhood.
Given that reputation, the out-of-court resolution comes as no surprise. Long likely wanted to avoid a trial that could have kept him in the spotlight, said Jessica Gabel, a Georgia State University law professor who specializes in trial strategy.
"Nobody wants their dirty laundry aired in court," she said. "Every day there would be fanfare. This is not something you want in the media."
Gabel said that attorneys try to keep the terms of any agreement confidential, but that it's noteworthy that Long was not required to apologize or acknowledge any wrongdoing.
The case has not been investigated criminally because Georgia's age of consent is 16. The young men were 17 and 18 when the alleged sexual contact occurred.
The agreement also holds advantages for the plaintiffs. J. Tom Morgan, a former DeKalb County district attorney, said men tend to be particularly reluctant to take the stand in such cases - which they would have likely been required to do if it had gone to court later this year.
"I'm sure they wanted to settle if the defense offered a reasonable sum of money," he said.
Taylor said it is Long's flock that is paying for whatever transgressions may have occurred.
"If it's a dollar or $15 million, it is coming from the community that supports that institution," said Taylor. "Those community stakeholders deserve to see you prove your innocence. By and large, people are interpreting this decision to settle as guilt."
Associated Press writer Greg Bluestein contributed to this report.
BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.comRichard “Dab” Garner has lived with HIV since the beginning of the epidemic 30 years ago. He has outlived his best friend, two life partners and a 4-year-old foster daughter. Each died of AIDS.
“A lot of us who survived in the ’80s and ’90s had survivors’ guilt. We weren’t doing anything different from anyone else who had HIV, but they were dying and we were still alive,” said Garner, now 49 and an AIDS activist living in Wilton Manors.
But with new drugs developed in the mid-’90s, more people are living with AIDS. Some, like Garner, have likely survived due to genetic anomalies that give them an extra edge. Others have benefitted from HIV-suppressant drugs.
HIV destroys a type of white blood cell often called a “T cell.” Normal T-cell counts often range between 500 and 1,800 per cubic millimeter of blood and anyone with a T-cell count below 200 is considered to have AIDS, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“At my low point, I went down to four T cells in the summer of ’94,” said Garner, whose count now hovers between 300 and 400. “It’s not the greatest in the world, but as long as they stay above 200, I’m happy.”
Born to “a very large Greek-Italian family” in Pensacola in 1962, Garner met his first boyfriend, Derek, the summer before his junior year in high school. Garner was a teen fashion model; Derek was a photographer for a shoot. “He was several years older. He thought I was in college when I was still in high school. I didn’t think to tell him otherwise.”
Garner moved to San Francisco with Derek. “After growing up in a small southern town … it was like coming home. You finally found you are not the only person who is gay.”
He and Derek had a monogamous relationship, Garner recalls. “I didn’t know anything about protected sex then. What I remember of the ’70s, not many people practiced safe sex.”
In February 1981, Garner’s best friend Philip, 25, became ill and developed “purple splotches” across his body. He was diagnosed with Kaposi’s sarcoma, later associated with AIDS.
Philip suffered extreme weight loss and fever. He was quarantined: “Even the doctors wore protective clothing to prevent them from catching whatever it was.’’
Garner gave his friend a teddy bear to hold “because he couldn’t have someone to hold him.”
Less than three weeks later, Philip was dead. At that time, doctors had seen several similar cases in San Francisco and had known of a few others in New York City. “They knew something was up — that it was mainly gay men.”
Two months later, Derek became ill. Doctors said Derek had “GRID — gay-related immune deficiency,” Garner said. “The first article I remember seeing was later that year, in ’81 or ’82, in The Village Voice in New York City, that this was affecting gay men, but they didn’t know what caused it.”
Garner kept a vigil at the hospital, and gave Derek a teddy bear to hold onto. “I could see him and he could see me from the other side of a window. I literally stood by that window for 11 days.’’
Derek died at 28. Then Garner began feeling ill with “what I thought was just a cold.” But he didn’t get better. He was hospitalized in February of 1982. On Valentine’s Day, doctors told him that he, too, had “GRID.”
“They also told me I would probably never make it out of the hospital alive ... They told me I wouldn’t live to see my 20th birthday.”
For two weeks, doctors gave Garner massive amounts of antibiotics and he got better. Doctors at the time called it “a miracle.”
It took two decades before Garner learned what probably saved him: He has a gene anomaly called CCR5 Delta 32 that helps him fight HIV.
“If you ever hear of 20- and 30-year survivors, they almost all have this gene anomaly,’’ he says. “It doesn’t prevent you from catching it. Most are people of European descent, whose families survived the Black Plague.”
After he left the hospital, Garner became an activist to raise awareness of HIV and AIDS.
In 1984, Garner met Brad, an HIV-positive man who became his second partner. The couple became foster parents to a baby girl named Candace, who was born with HIV and fetal alcohol syndrome.
“They didn’t expect her to live more than a few months. We didn’t know how long we were going to live ourselves,” Garner said. “We went into the little nursery. Here’s this little girl all by herself in this little plastic incubator. No one was taking care of her. It brought back all the nightmares of these friends dying and me being in quarantine myself. We decided to take her home and feel as loved as any child could for whatever time she had.”
When Candace began to talk, she wasn’t able to say the word dad — it came out “Dab,” giving Garner his nickname.
Candace lived only to age 4, dying in August 1989. Three months later, Brad also died.
But from their deaths, a tradition was born. After Candace died, Garner gave all her toys to other sick children. They also got teddy bears, a gift he continues to give sick children today called “Teddy Bear Touchdown.”
“I do it in her memory,” he said.
Garner has had two bouts of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, once in Los Angeles and again when he moved back to Florida in 2000 to nurse his mother, who died three years later.
Garner, who lives on disability, moved to Wilton Manors in 2009. He has found love again, with a new partner who also lives with AIDS. They met a year ago at the Gay Men’s Health Summit in Fort Lauderdale. Garner devotes his well time to AIDS activism, working with the Broward County Health Department and other agencies to develop new HIV prevention programs.
“Dab has been living with the disease for 30 years and uses his experiences to educate and help others,” said Terry DeCarlo, a spokesman for the AIDS agency Broward House who has known him about seven years. “That is his legacy. He’s not dying from it, he is living with it.”
May 29, 2011 in AIDS and Health, Bisexual, Business, Current Affairs, Florida, Fort Lauderdale & Broward County, Gay, Key West & Monroe County, Lesbian, LGBT, Media, Miami & Miami-Dade County, Miami Beach, Palm Beach County, Politics, Religion, South Florida, Transgender, Weblogs, Wilton Manors, Workplace, Youth | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)