Ike doesn’t slow gay bar in Galveston

As Galveston told its remaining residents on Monday to leave the Texas island devastated by Hurricane Ike, Robert's Lafitte, a gay bar, was planning a pre-curfew drag show and Tina Turner sing-along. The first of two bars to reopen after Ike's onslaught on Saturday, Robert's Lafitte is a haven in the storm -- for gays, straights, anyone who needs a place to drink and find comfort.

‘HIV POZ’ gets OK for Calif. license plate

Julien Pierre fought the California DMV and, surprisingly, won. The HIV-positive software engineer will soon have the vanity plate he wanted -- "HIV POZ" -- for his Toyota Prius after pushing the issue with the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

Gay Fla. couple claims harassment

There aren't many openly same-sex couples in Spring Hill. But Perry Hogg and Jesse Worf, a gay couple who have been together for more than two decades, say they've never had a problem. That is, until they moved to their current home on Masada Lane.

Rights museum heads to downtown

imageWhen the Center for Civil & Human Rights breaks ground next year, it will do so on a 2.5-acre parcel of land tucked between the World of Coke and the Georgia Aquarium in downtown Atlanta. When the doors of the $125-million facility open in 2011, key moments in Atlanta's gay history will be included, according to Doug Shipman, the center's executive director. “There are a couple of different places that specific gay and lesbian issues come in,” Shipman says. “You have both a historical piece and a contemporary piece. You’ll see that in exhibitions and in programming. We have very specially outlined how we want to tackle the issues.” Read the full story from Project Q Atlanta.

Piedmont weathers first fest of ’09

Piedmont Park survived its first festival of the year last weekend, thanks to small crowds that apparently did little to damage the turf in the vast park.
Atlanta’s commissioner of parks, recreation and cultural affairs, Dianne Harnell Cohen, said she didn’t see any damage from the two-day Atlanta Arts Festival held at the city’s most popular park. “From what I observed the show was well attended, people were respectful of the park, and normal activities continued,” said Cohen, who attended the festival on Saturday and Sunday.
There's more after the jump.

AIDS Survival Project to close doors

AIDS Survival Project is shutting its doors after 20 years of serving people with HIV in Atlanta. The closing of the agency will take place in two parts, according to Southern Voice. Most services will end by Dec. 31, while ASP's Counseling, Testing & Referral Center will remain operational until June 2009. There's more after the jump.

‘HIIV POZ’ license plate OK’d in Calif.

Julien Pierre fought the California DMV and, surprisingly, won. The HIV-positive software engineer will soon have the vanity plate he wanted -- "HIV POZ" -- for his Toyota Prius after pushing the issue with the California Department of Motor Vehicles. An effort to sell an AIDS awareness license plate in Georgia stalled earlier this year. Watch a news clip about Pierre's story after the jump.

Gay-inclusive civil rights center goes downtown

imageWhen Rev. George Hyde led the first church known in the U.S. to openly minister to gay men and lesbians in Atlanta, he could hardly envision his place in history some six decades later. But the story of Hyde and his independent Catholic congregation is expected to be among the gay moments in Atlanta’s history included in the Center for Civil & Human Rights when the $125 million facility, expected to break ground next year, opens in 2011.

CNN’s live man-on-man action

Nothing like a little man-on-man kissing and nipple tweaking to perk up CNN's so serious "American Morning." CNN reporter Allan Chernoff was stationed outside Lehman Brothers this morning to report on the firm's demise into bankruptcy. As his live report aired about 8 a.m., two men seemed to console one another within the live shot, then turned up the heat with more consolation of the mouth-on-mouth variety. They topped it off with some nipple licking. All the while, Chernoff continues his report. Watch the video after the jump.

Hallmark under fire for gay cards

The Idaho Values Alliance has urged the owner of seven Hallmark stores not to carry a set of four greeting cards created to celebrate same-sex marriage. By Hallmark's acknowledging gay marriage, the company "is doing what 48 states and the federal government have refused to do, and that is to recognize homosexual marriage," Bryan Fischer, IVA's executive director, said in a statement. Three of the cards feature gender-neutral illustrations, with either hearts or flowers. A fourth shows the torsos of two men in tuxedos holding hands. The IVA specifically asked Philip Jordan, owner of seven Hallmark stores in Nampa, Idaho, not to carry the cards. An associate manager at one of the stores told, an LGBT news website based in Idaho, that his store was not planning on selling the cards as part of its inventory, though interested customers could purchase the cards upon request. Read the full story from the Advocate.

Calif. firefighters sue over gay Pride parade

Four San Diego firefighters have filed a lawsuit against the city government for damages after alleging they were sexually harassed while participating involuntarily in the 2007 gay pride parade. The Los Angeles Times reports the firefighters say they were ordered to drive their fire truck along the three-hour parade route even though they say peers had complained of being harassed during previous pride parades. The trial was expected to begin today. The suit alleges that mandatory participation was part of a policy by Fire Chief Tracy Jarman, according to the firefighters' attorney, Charles LiMandri. Jarman, who is a lesbian, marched in the parade. One of the firefighters alleged that after questioning the parade assignment, the "lesbian battalion chief" gave him an unsatisfactory job rating. "This is not an anti-gay thing," LiMandri said, according to the Times. "These guys have served the Hillcrest community for years with dignity and honor. They just feel firefighters should not be forced to participate in a parade where firefighters have been harassed in the past." Read the full story from the Advocate.

Author of ‘Daddy’s Roommate’ fires back

The author of the book Sarah Palin reportedly tried to have removed from her hometown library blasted back Saturday evening, saying the Alaska Governor had a "small-town mind," was an enemy of intellectual freedom and a "disastrous choice" for vice president. "I rather suspected one of my books might be the one she targeted," said Michael Willhoite, author of "Daddy's Roomate" and several other children's books. "I can tell you right now, Ms. Palin is a very good mother and everything. But she is my mortal enemy. She is one of the enemies of the First Amendment and I can hardly [organize] my thoughts here, I am so offended by this." Reached by phone, Willhoite was ultimately not surprised he had once been Palin's target. In fact, he admitted to being "strangely flattered" that he was "on her list." "I wasn't on Nixon's enemies list," he said, "I was too young for that." Read the full story from the Huffington Post.

Piedmont, Doraville and the police

Soulforce rides into Atlanta early next month. Author J.L. King touts new novel in Atlanta appearance. Hope dims for Atlanta Pride's return to Piedmont Park. Drill here, drill now not working for Piedmont Park. Size, though, matters for the park. image Kathy Griffin (photo) visits with her Atlanta gays. Where's the LGBT in Atlanta's growing diversity? Doraville in DeKalb County approves a non-discrimination policy. Site for human rights center to be unveiled on Monday. Atlanta police target transgender prostitutes. Richard Quest, a gay report for CNN, returns to the airwaves. "Boys in the Band" no more. Remembering the gay heroes of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks as Sen. John McCain honors Mark Bingham. Lifetime stalls its rendition of "Project Runway." Is that Ellen DeGeneres flirting with Michelle Obama? Outkast member a dandy not a gay.

Football, golf, Lance and the Dream

There's golf to be played, so say the lesbians of the Women's Outdoor Network. Flag football opens its fall season in Piedmont Park. image Speaking of flag football, organizers of Gay Bowl VIII are sexing it up. Piedmont Park goes dry--as in rain, not liquor--though some sports are returning to its athletic fields. It wouldn't be a Gay Softball World Series without a little drama. The Atlanta Dream wrapping up season and steals one from the Sparks. Matthew Mitcham gets a stamp -- in Australia. Lance Armstrong may make Atlanta stop on way to returning to the Tour de France. Look past the blood and gore for the appeal of Ultimate Fighting. The Gwinnett Braves open their season on April 9 as they winnow names for their new mascot.

Size matters for Piedmont Park

When it comes to size, the smaller the better for Piedmont Park. Several thousand people are expected in the park this weekend for the second annual Atlanta Arts Festival. But not so many that the festival got booted from the park, like its larger cousins including the Atlanta Pride Festival. That's because the city of Atlanta's drought-related restrictions, put in place in January, banned festivals that draw more than 50,000 people. The Atlanta Arts Festival is expected to attract fewer than 20,000 people. There's more after the jump.

Site for human rights center to be unveiled Monday

The site for the new Center for Civil and Human Rights may be unveiled as soon as Monday.
Officials involved in the proposed Center for Civil and Human Rights plan to announce Monday where they will build the $125 million facility. Signs point to 2.5 acres that Coca-Cola owns just north of Centennial Olympic Park, near the World of Coca-Cola and the Georgia Aquarium. Monday’s announcement will be held at Pemberton Place, located between World of Coca-Cola and the aquarium.
Construction of the site is scheduled to begin next year. Preliminary projections show the center drawing 650,000 visitors a year. Drafts of recommended content for the site include moments from the area's rich gay history.

High school for gays proposed in Chicago

uring the past two years, Sarah Wurtz, an out lesbian at Lakeview High School, has learned to weather the jeers and stares of students and teachers with a sense of resignation. "I don't like people looking at us like we're doing something completely wrong," said Wurtz, 17, whose girlfriend also attends the school. "I always feel more comfortable when I'm with people who accept it or are like me." If she were to get her wish, it might look something like a proposed high school that would welcome lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and sexually questioning students—groups that supporters say often face violence and harassment at school. But the plan isn't likely to become a reality before 2012, and that's only if it passes through the bevy of criticism it faces from both sides of the political spectrum. Conservatives say the Social Justice High School-Pride Campus would be a misuse of public funds and require administrators to take a moral stance on homosexuality, a judgment well above their pay grade. Even some gay rights advocates argue that isolating the gay and lesbian population from the mainstream would be damaging and prevent different groups of students from learning to interact. "If we're going to set up a separate school, let's put the bullies in the school and not our gay kids," said Rick Garcia, public policy director of Equality Illinois, the state's largest gay rights group. "Kids should be able to go to school in a safe environment wherever they are." The plan comes from the people who run the Greater Lawndale Little Village High School for Social Justice. They say the new campus would be open to all students, but would especially seek to foster a violence-free atmosphere for students who are often targeted for their sexual identities. The school proposal is in the early stages. A public hearing is set for Sept. 18, and the proposal requires approval by an evaluation team and then Chicago Public Schools Chief Arne Duncan before it goes before the school board. Read the full story from the Chicago Tribune.

Analysis confirms AIDS hits men hard

AIDS remains largely a disease of gay and bisexual men in the United States but also disproportionately infects black women, according to an analysis published on Thursday. Last month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that more than 56,000 people in the United States become newly infected with the human immunodeficiency virus each year, far more than previous estimates of about 40,000. Now the CDC has further analyzed those numbers to find the fatal and incurable virus largely infects men who have sex with men, or MSM -- a group that includes gays, bisexuals and men who may have the occasional sexual encounter with other men. "The male-to-male sexual contact transmission category represented 72 percent of new infections among males, including 81 percent of new infections among whites, 63 percent among blacks, and 72 percent among Hispanics," the report said. Of the new infections in 2006, more than half were among gay and bisexual men, the CDC found. Of these, 46 percent of new infections were among whites, 35 percent among blacks and 19 percent in Hispanics. But among the overall U.S. population, more blacks are affected -- 46 percent of new infections were among blacks. Read the full story from Reuters.

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.

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.