Category:  News

Atlanta Pride searches for festival site

With a decision on Piedmont Park’s availability to host Atlanta Pride and other large-scale festivals not due until the fall, the Atlanta Pride Committee is scrutinizing any venue with room enough to host the estimated 300,000 people who attend over a three-day weekend.

Pride organizers said they will create a short list of possible locations in late September or early October. The Pride Committee will announce the new venue on or before Oct. 11, National Coming Out Day.

After being barred from its traditional home in Piedmont Park in January because of drought concerns, Pride lost more than $160,000 in 2008 in the scramble to find a new venue and line up sponsors on short notice. Organizers credit the late timing, rather than its location at the Atlanta Civic Center over July 4th weekend, for the losses. But they are opening the floor for new venues.

Pride Board Chair Deirdre Heffernan and former festival director Jennifer Sheffield, who is a member of the venue selection committee, said they are looking at every location in the Atlanta metro area with the capacity to host 300,000 people over three days.

“One of the things we have to look at is that we bring a significant number of people from outside the metro area to our event, and there has to be access to hotels, there has to be access to the airport, it has to be within reason,” Sheffield said.

Possibilities could include 10th Street at Grady High School, the Atlanta Civic Center, Atlantic Station, Centennial Olympic Park, Jim R. Miller Park in Cobb County, the Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers, the Georgia World Congress Center, the Georgia International Convention Center, Stone Mountain and Piedmont Park.

Read the full story from Southern Voice.    READ MORE »

HIV-positive teacher sues school for wrongful firing

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is filing a suit against a Maryland school for allegedly firing a teacher because he is HIV positive.

Chauncey Stevenson, who taught second grade and after school music classes at Chesapeake Academy in Arnold, had been employed from 2003-2006 and received good evaluations from supervisors, reports the Baltimore Sun. His contract was not renewed for the 2006-2007 school year, which caused him to file a complaint with the EEOC. The EEOC filed the suit on after no settlement was made with the school.

"They were advised that he was HIV-positive and he was fired, despite the fact that he wanted to come back to work," EEOC attorney Jacqueline H. McNair told the Sun. "He was a good teacher and well-liked."

The EEOC says Chesapeake Academy violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, which defines HIV as a disability, therefore making it unlawful to wrongfully terminate someone with the virus.

Read the full story from the Advocate.    READ MORE »

Drag star dies during Dallas performance

Before she hit the stage, Ilene Alloverya told Donna Dumae that she had a dramatic performance in store. It was the last number of Dumae’s 12th annual "Friends Helping Friends" fundraiser for AIDS Services of Dallas held last Sunday, Aug. 31 at the Dallas Eagle.

At one point during her "Nobody Does It Like Me" number, Alloverya crawled across the floor to accept a tip from Dumae.

"During the song, he threw out his arms and then just dropped to the floor. It was incredible. At first, I laughed, thinking ’Oh Ilene, you were right. That certainly was dramatic,’" remembers Don Jenkins (a.k.a. Donna Dumae).

But then Ilene Alloverya didn’t move. So Jenkins hit the stage yelling, "Ilene!" Others in the audience rushed the stage, too. A registered nurse began cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and Eagle owner JD Buchert began mouth-to-mouth, Jenkins remembers, "But it was too late."

"It appears he suffered a massive coronary arrest," Jenkins says.

Chip Doran (a.k.a. Ilene Alloverya) was 55 years old - a retiree and former Dallasite who relocated to Austin and drove to Dallas for the Labor Day weekend fundraiser. The United Court of the Lone Star Empire, a 30-year-old volunteer organization that raises money for Dallas charities, organizes "Friends Helping Friends."

Read the full story from Edge Boston.    READ MORE »

Obama pledges ‘equality for all’

Editor’s note: Barack Obama’s presidential campaign this week agreed to respond in writing to a series of questions submitted by William R. Kapfer, co-president of Window Media, the Blade’s parent company.

Washington Blade: What personal experiences or friendships in your life have shaped how you view gay issues?

Barack Obama: Michelle and I have been blessed with many openly gay and lesbian friends and colleagues whom we have been close to for many years. While that fact has made the issue facing the LGBT community more personal, the fundamental reasons I have for supporting equality are greater than any individual. I am running for President because I believe that we as a nation need change. We need to end the divisive politics of George W. Bush and pursue policies that treat all of us, regardless of identity or background, with dignity, equality and respect.

Blade: Do you have any role models who are openly gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender?

Obama: A college professor of mine helped me to see the lives of LGBT people from a different perspective. He was the first openly gay professor that I had ever come in contact with, or openly gay person of authority that I had come in contact with. And he was just a terrific guy. His comfort in his own skin and the friendship we developed helped to educate me on a number of these issues.

Blade: Would you decline to nominate a qualified Supreme Court justice, cabinet member or other appointed position just because the person is openly gay?

Obama: No. If elected, my appointments will be made on the actual qualifications of the candidates for office, and nothing else. In my administration, my first criteria will be competence and capability.

Read the full story from the Washington Blade.    READ MORE »

CNN reporter returns to airwaves

imageIt took a fire in the tunnel under the English Channel for me to notice, but Richard Quest is back on the air.

The gay CNN reporter was busted after being spotted in New York's Central Park after closing time. He was carrying meth and quickly entered rehab after his arrest. He apparently emerged two months later and rejoined CNN in London earlier this summer and returned to his duties hosting "Business Traveller."

But Quest is also back in larger circulation on CNN, reporting live from Spain this morning during coverage of the Chunnel fire. It appears his tough times are now behind him.    READ MORE »

McCain offers tribute to Mark Bingham

imageIn this day of ceremonies marking the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Sen. John McCain invoked the memory of Mark Bingham during an event this morning.

Speaking in Shanksville, Penn., McCain called attention to the role the gay rugby player had in attempting to thwart the takeover of United Airlines Flight 93 before it crashed. McCain spoke for 90 seconds and his comments were carried live on CNN.

"The only means we possess to thank them is to try to be as good an American as they were. We might fall well short of their standard, but there is honor in the effort," McCain said. "May god bless their souls.”

There's more, including McCain's eulogy for Bingham in 2001, after the jump.    READ MORE »

McCain offers tribute to Mark Bingham

imageIn this day of ceremonies marking the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Sen. John McCain invoked the memory of Mark Bingham during an event this morning.

Speaking in Shanksville, Penn., McCain called attention to the role the gay rugby player had in attempting to thwart the takeover of United Airlines Flight 93 before it crashed. McCain spoke for 90 seconds and his comments were carried live on CNN.

"The only means we possess to thank them is to try to be as good an American as they were. We might fall well short of their standard, but there is honor in the effort," McCain said. "May god bless their souls.”

There's more, including McCain's eulogy for Bingham in 2001, after the jump.    READ MORE »

Paper says ‘No way’ to ‘So gay’ Broadway

When Michael Bailey set out to place small classified-type advertising for his company’s new production and its casting calls, he hardly thought he’d soon find himself embroiled in a controversy over “community concerns.”

The production, “Naked Boys Singing,” has been well-received internationally and at home, after being performed on and off Broadway for a decade. “Naked Boys” has also caused controversy due to the production’s nudity and gay content.

On Aug. 15, Bailey’s company, MBF Productions, paid for online list advertising for “Naked Boys Singing” casting calls in the general announcements section of The State newspaper’s website. On Aug. 19, MBF received notice their ad had been canceled.

“We have canceled both your ads and issued you a full refund,” wrote The State’s Michael Dudash in a support email to MBF. “Because of the nature of the content, we cannot run these ads. Thank you!”

The ad read, “Auditions for Naked Boys Singing will be at the Ramada Limited, Monday & Tuesday, August 25 & 26, 2008 7 PM - 10 PM. Ramada Limited, 1315 Garner Lane. This is Broad River Road at I-20, Exit 65. South side of Interstate. Auditions will be clothed as will be most of the rehearsals. CAST: Roles are available for 10 males ages 18 to 32 in good physical condition. Looking for average-Joe types that can physically sing and dance. visit our website www.mbfproductions.org for full info.”

Read the full story from Q Notes.    READ MORE »

Voters in three states face marriage vote

With same-sex marriage bans on the ballot in three high-profile states in November, presidential hopefuls John McCain and Barack Obama could find themselves stuck in a fight they'd rather avoid.

California, Arizona and Florida will ask voters to approve constitutional amendments limiting marriage to a man and woman, and the high-priced election clash over the issue could help decide who becomes the nation's next president.

Polls show Obama and McCain running neck and neck in much of the nation, which means that any issue that could bring out voters in a swing state such as Florida has to be taken seriously by both parties.

But with the economy, the war in Iraq and health care drawing the most attention in the race for president, same-sex marriage isn't a battleground either candidate would choose, said Jack Pitney, a political science professor at Claremont McKenna College.

"Both men need to appeal to moderates," he said. "And neither candidate seems comfortable talking about this."

Read the full story from the San Francisco Chronicle.    READ MORE »

Fla. judge rules against adoption ban

A Monroe Circuit Court judge has ruled Florida's 31-year-old gay adoption ban unconstitutional in an order that allows an openly gay Key West foster parent to adopt a teenage boy he has raised since 2001.

Declaring the adoption to be in the boy's "best interest", circuit judge David J Audlin Jr, said the Florida law forbidding gays and lesbians from adopting children is contrary to the state constitution because it singles out a group for punishment.

Florida is one of only two states - including Mississippi - that forbid gay people from adopting children.

Read the full story from the Guardian.    READ MORE »

Black govs leaders in marriage equality

Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick and New York governor David Paterson have more than a few things in common. Of course, there’s the obvious: Both men are handsome, charismatic, and in their 50s. Both are the first black governors of their states—and only the second and third nationwide since Reconstruction. But less obvious -- at least to the average voter -- is their similar dedication to pro-gay politics.

Unlike his antigay Republican predecessor, Mitt Romney, Patrick has continually flexed his political muscle to ensure all of his constituents are treated equally. “In Massachusetts equal means equal,” he said in late July when he signed legislation that allows out-of-state gay couples to wed in Massachusetts. This repealed an obscure, 95-year-old law Romney had enforced to ensure that Massachusetts, as he explained, would not become the “Las Vegas of same-sex marriage.”

Paterson is just as impressive. A soft-spoken, legally blind politico, who represented Harlem in the state senate for two decades before becoming New York’s lieutenant governor in 2006, he’s been a staunch ally and ahead of the curve on gay issues. One of Paterson’s first major acts, after becoming governor in March, was ordering all state agencies to recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other jurisdictions. The New York Times remarked that Paterson has become “something of a celebrity” since making that decision, noting he received “a hero’s welcome” while marching in New York City’s gay pride parade this June.

Think about it. Of the 50 men and women who occupy governor’s mansions in the United States, only two are black. And these two black men are arguably the most gay-friendly to ever be governor -- including New Jersey’s Jim McGreevey, who came around to gay rights only after coming out and leaving office.

Read the full story from the Advocate.    READ MORE »

Hope dims for Pride’s return to Piedmont Park

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As if the Atlanta Pride Festival needed any more bad news.

Mired in six-figure losses from the event last July, festival organizers were doused this week with more bad news: Piedmont Park's efforts to find an underground source of water fell flat -- again.
   READ MORE »

Piedmont Park comes up dry—again

Piedmont Park's efforts to find an underground water source failed -- again.

That doesn't bode well for the crown jewel of Atlanta's park system or the large-scale events like the Atlanta Pride Festival that suffered when they were forced out.    READ MORE »

N.C. man pleads guilty to HIV exposure

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A gay, 23-year-old man received a suspended 45-day jail sentence, 30 months of probation and a $300 fine, plus court costs, after pleading guilty Aug. 22 to charges stemming from violations of North Carolina’s public health laws relating to the spread of HIV.

Joshua Waldon Weaver, a DJ at clubs in Raleigh and Wilmington, was accused of failing to use a condom and failure to notify sexual partners of his HIV-positive status. According to filing documents, the offenses occurred from Aug. 1, 2006 to the time of the charges. The victim in the case was not named and the defendant’s boyfriend at the time of the proceeding made no statement to the press.

In April, Weaver was arrested and charged with the crimes, which are regulated under North Carolina Administrative Code 10-41 and North Carolina General Statute 130A-144(f). The laws address control measures regarding the spread of HIV and require those with communicable diseases — including other sexually transmitted diseases, hepatitis and tuberculosis — to comply with measures intended to curb their proliferation.

Read the full story from Q Notes. There's also video from WRAL in Raleigh.

   READ MORE »

HIV-positive man fired by McDonald’s

An Iowa gay man says he was fired by a McDonald’s franchise in Dyersville after it was learned he was HIV-positive.

Daniel Carver, 46, has filed a complaint with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission and has served notice to the franchise that he intends to sue for wrongful dismissal.

Federal law makes it illegal to discriminate on the basis of physical disability, which includes HIV. Under Iowa state law it is illegal to discriminate against an employee because of race, religion, perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

Carver worked for the franchise for about four months, but was fired in February.

Read the full story from 365gay.com.    READ MORE »

Survey: Judge on job performance only

Your co-worker might just be a little more tolerant than you think.

Results from the Out & Equal Workplace Survey show that seven in 10 heterosexual adults agree that how an employee performs at their job should be the standard for judging an employee, not whether or not they are transgender. Nearly eight in 10 heterosexual adults strongly or somewhat agree that how an employee does his or her job should be the standard for judging an employee, not their sexual orientation. The survey also revealed that a majority of heterosexual adults are supportive of marriage-like workplace benefits for same sex couples virtually across-the-board.

There's more after the jump.    READ MORE »

Atlanta Pride loses total $160,000

The Atlanta Pride Committee’s board of directors and festival committee are working on ways to rebound from a 2008 event that saw a $164,736 deficit after the festival was forced to change both venue and date just six months out.

Due to the state’s severe drought, city officials booted large festivals from all city parks. Traditionally held in Piedmont Park on the last weekend of June, the 2008 Atlanta Pride festival took place over July Fourth weekend at the Civic Center.

While Atlanta Pride had a nest egg stashed away from profits made from the 2007, 2005, and 2004 festivals among others, the Pride Committee currently has a six to eight month supply of operating funds.

“If we look at our current financial standing right now, for what we have in the bank, if we look at the exact expenses, rent, one salary, storage unit, the nitty-gritty stuff, if we didn’t do anything we would be around for about six months. But obviously we are going to do things,” said Pride board chairperson Deirdre Heffernan. “That actually is a better picture than we first thought, so that gives us breathing room to move forward and make our plans.”

For the full story from Southern Voice, go here.    READ MORE »

Festivals push for return to Piedmont Park

The Dogwood Festival called off plans for a public protest in hopes of striking a deal with members of the Atlanta City Council to allow large festivals, including Atlanta Pride, back into Piedmont Park.

The Dogwood Festival Board of Directors initially urged supporters to attend the Aug. 18 Atlanta City Council meeting, but called it off at the last moment. Executive Director Brian Hill said Dogwood supporters would have been competing with more than 30 speakers who addressed the city on other pressing issues, including the closing of Fire House No. 7 in West Atlanta and the firing of a city arborist.

“It might not have gone our way,” Hill said.

Instead, Dogwood organizers met with a city councilmember they said is sympathetic to the festival’s plight. He did not respond to interview requests to verify his position.

Hill said his board is working with the councilmember to draft legislation allowing all Class A events, including Pride, Dogwood, the Peachtree Road Race and the city’s Jazz Festival, back into Piedmont Park next year.

Councilmember Anne Fauver, whose district encompasses Piedmont Park, said the decision will be made in October, following a report that considers drought conditions and the state of Piedmont Park’s hybrid Bermuda grass turf.

For the full article from Southern Voice, go here.    READ MORE »

Lesbians get their own neighborhood

One day in July, Gail Davis, 58, and her partner, Janyce Bender, 64, sat down at their computer to find an email from Olivia companies. They were already anticipating their upcoming Olivia cruise – but when they clicked to open the message, their excitement was overwhelming.

“Oh my gosh,” Davis said as she read the message in disbelief. Olivia, the lesbian-owned women’s travel company and record label, had finally come through with a decade-long promise: to open what may be the first large-scale lesbian housing development in the country.

Bender turned to her partner and said, “I absolutely want to do this.” Less than a week later they sent a $10,000 deposit and their registration was secured.

“Nobody really knew this was coming,” said Davis, “but then they send us this email that said ‘Hi, we’re ready to start taking reservations.’”

Olivia Communities will be a 334-unit resort-style living community in Tuscon, Ariz. Although anyone can purchase a home, the company is targeting lesbians.

“My whole vision of this has always been about creating community and creating a place where we can not only be free… but also the kind of community where you’re really connected with the people there and feel comfortable and happy in your environment,” said Judy Dlugacz, president and founder of Olivia Companies.

For the full story from 365gay.com, go here.    READ MORE »

Cobb courts a steamy place

A former Superior Court administrator in Cobb County so enjoyed his job that he didn't want to leave -- at least for sex. That's the result of a report issued Tuesday concerning allegations leveled at Howard Chesshire, who left his job in February after the allegations began surfacing.

Sex in a judge's chambers, trysts at local hotels during business hours, obscene phone calls to female workers and a desire to see lesbian sex are among the many accounts of what was going on with the top Superior Court official in Cobb County for the past two decades.


The report says Chessire denied all of the allegations.    READ MORE »

 
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