Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Just for sh*ts and giggles. After all, It's Pride Month

I scanned some old photos this afternoon and thought I'd post them just for laughs. These are from our trip to New York for Pride in June, 2001.

We got delayed in DC at Dulles Airport for about 8 hours due to a line of severe thunderstorms all up and down the east cost. Ended up crashing at my sister's and flew out the next morning. We checked into the Marriott Marquis in Times Square nearly 24 hours late.

We ate and shopped and walked and ate and shopped and walked all weekend.

We are both slimmer now than we were back then. Paul wants me to make it clear that he is now nearly 50 pounds lighter. He has also grown his beard back since those days.

The top pic was taken in front of the historic Stonewall Inn. The second is in Rockefeller Center.

The third pic was taken from the plane as we left NYC. I had one pic left on the roll so I pointed it out the window and took this shot. (Yes boys and girls, once upon a time, cameras had film in them and you had to wait to have your pictures printed. We also walked 10 miles to school, barefoot in the snow and had to cook without a microwave.)

It's sort of freaky that this was taken just about 2 1/2 months before 9/11. It doesn't matter what else they build there, the Manhattan skyline will never be the same.

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Doctor Treating Pregnant Women to Prevent Lesbian and Unfeminine Babies

The Bio-Ethics Forum at the Hastings Institute is reporting about the use of a controversial drug to prevent lesbian babies and little girls who display an "abnormal" disinterest in babies, don't want to play with girls' toys or become mothers, and whose "career preferences" are deemed too "masculine." 

Dr. Maria New, of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Florida International University  has drawn fire for overstepping in her use of the drug, dexamethasone (dex), a hormone used to treat female fetuses for a condition called Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH), a gestational condition resulting in the "masculinization" of female genitalia. This is the first time the drug has been used for the purpose of changing sexual orientation or the degree of femininity in little girls. There have been no clinical trials to support the use of dex in this manner.

Alice Dreger, Ellen K. Feder, Anne Tamar-Mattis of The Hastings Center write on the Bioethiocs Forum:
While everyone has been busy watching geneticists at the frontier of the brave new world, none of us seem to have noticed what some pediatricians are up to. Perhaps it is because so many people are fascinated by the idea of a “gay gene” that prenatal “lesbian hormones” have slipped past public scrutiny. In any case, we think Nimkarn and New’s “paradigm for prenatal diagnosis and treatment” suggests a reason why activists for gay and lesbian rights should be wary of believing that claims for the innateness of homosexuality will lead to liberation. Evidence that homosexual orientation is inborn could, instead, very well lead to new means of pathologization and prevention, as it seems to be in the case we’ve been tracking.

Needless to say, we do not think it reasonable or just to use medicine to try to prevent homosexual and bisexual orientations. Nor do we think it reasonable to use medicine to prevent uppity women, like the sort who might raise just these kinds of alarms. Consider that our declaration of our conflict of interest.
Wow! Now reparative therapy can happen in vitro without all the pesky psychological damage. What part of "we don't need to be fixed" do they not understand? 
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New Wave Wednesday: "Lies", by Thompson Twins (music video)

The New Wave band Thompson Twins hit #1 on the U.S. dance charts in January, 1983 with this classic, "Lies". The band's signature look created quite a stir in the "post-disco" days when most of American men were still sporting over-moussed John Travolta hair and gold chains and women were holding on to their big, poofy, Farrah Fawcett locks. The band's look may seem tame by today's standards, but during the early 80's, nobody was wearing dreds or faux-hawks.

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Elena Kagan: DADT is "Unwise and Unjust"

Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan faced nine hours of questioning on Tuesday as she was hammered by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee who are trying to get a sense of how Kagan might vote on some of the controversial issues she's likely to face as a justice on the nation's highest court.

The current Solicitor General and former dean of the Harvard University School of Law tried to stay neutral but defended her past statements and actions with regard to Don't Ask, Don't Tell and the Army ROTC's presence on the Harvard campus.

In response to a question from Jeff Sessions, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Commission about her past statements against DADT, “I have repeatedly said that the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy is unwise and unjust — I believed it then and I believe it now.”

The Advocate's Kerry Elveld reports:
Kagan stated several times that she was trying to balance two competing interests: compliance with the Solomon Amendment, a 1996 law that empowers the secretary of Defense to deny federal funding to colleges and universities that prohibit or prevent ROTC or military recruitment on campus; and an adherence to the school’s antidiscrimination policy, which said that no employer could use the office of career services if that employer would not sign a nondiscrimination pledge. The military could not sign the pledge based on its discriminatory DADT policy.

Although military recruiters were not allowed to use the law school’s office of career services during part of Kagan’s deanship, they were allowed to recruit on campus through the office of veteran services. But much of the disagreement between Kagan and Sessions centered on the events following a 2004 decision by the U.S. court of appeals for the third circuit that found the Solomon Amendment to be unconstitutional — a ruling that was subsequently overturned by a unanimous Supreme Court decision in 2006.

Sessions alleged that Kagan had purposely continued to block recruiter access to the school’s office of career services even after the Department of Defense explicitly requested full access and said it would appeal the 2004 decision.

But Kagan contended that she believed the school’s policy was “in compliance” with the Solomon Amendment and “for many, many years, the Department of Defense had agreed with us.”

“When DOD came to us and said it thought that that was insufficient,” Kagan said, “we went through a discussion over a couple of months and we made the decision to do exactly what DOD wanted.”

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Supreme Court: Christian Student Group Must Admit Gays, Cuccinelli Disagrees

In a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court ruled Monday that a christian student group receiving funding from a university cannot violate that university's non-discrimination policy and must allow gay students to join. The court ruled that Hastings College's policy does extend to student groups and does not violate the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The Huffington Post reports:

WASHINGTON — An ideologically split Supreme Court ruled Monday that a law school can legally deny recognition to a Christian student group that won't let gays join, with one justice saying that the First Amendment does not require a public university to validate or support the group's "discriminatory practices."

The court turned away an appeal from the Christian Legal Society, which sued to get funding and recognition from the University of California's Hastings College of the Law. The CLS requires that voting members sign a statement of faith and regards "unrepentant participation in or advocacy of a sexually immoral lifestyle" as being inconsistent with that faith.

The court on a 5-4 judgment upheld the lower court rulings saying the Christian group's First Amendment rights of association, free speech and free exercise were not violated by the college's nondiscrimination policy.

"In requiring CLS – in common with all other student organizations – to choose between welcoming all students and forgoing the benefits of official recognition, we hold, Hastings did not transgress constitutional limitations," said Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who wrote the 5-4 majority opinion for the court's liberals and moderate Anthony Kennedy. "CLS, it bears emphasis, seeks not parity with other organizations, but a preferential exemption from Hastings' policy."

Naturally, Virginia's douchebag of an attorney general has weighed on the subject, saying that the 14th amendment does not protect the gays.

Last March Cooch sent a letter to Virginia's state colleges and universities stating that employment non-discrimination policies that included sexual orientation as a protected status where not legal in the commonwealth and must be stricken. The move caused a major uproar on campuses throughout the Old Dominion, with students and faculty tatking to the streets of Richmond in protest.

Not being one to miss an opportunity to show his ass, Cooch also believes he knows the constitution better that the Supreme Court and said so to a group of high school students. Think Progress' The Wonk Room reports:
On Friday, Cuccinelli appeared at Boys State, where a high-school student asked him, “How is that not a violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment?” Cuccinelli responded by suggesting that the amendment was not designed to protect gay people:

 “State universities are not free to create any specially protected classes other than those dictated by the General Assembly,” Cuccinelli said. “Your question is, why is that not a violation of the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause. Frankly, the category of sexual orientation would never have been contemplated by the people who wrote and voted for and passed the 14th Amendment,” he said.

“There are judges who think these things ‘evolve,’ is the word they like to use,” Cuccinelli said, but the correct approach to making such a change would be a constitutional amendment, he said.
 I really wish Cooch and Gov. McDonnell would share notes on these issues. Earlier this year when McDonnell came under fire for breaking with his predecessors and leaving out sexual orientation as executive order on non-discrimination, "Taliban Bob" said it was unnecessary because the 14th Amendment provided all the protection we need.

This is why we need ENDA!

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Monday, June 28, 2010

Scenes from Roanoke Equality's 2nd Annual Rally for GLBT Equality

What a Big Gay Weekend we had in the Star City! The 2nd Annual Rally for GLBT Equality took place at Elmwood Park took place in downtown Roanoke on Saturday. I had the honor of playing host to some incredible entertainers and A-List local dignitaries. (I was also the photographer, which is why I don't appear in any of the pics.)
Roanoke Mayor David Bowers (above) gave an amazing speech about the contributions of Roanoke GLBT Community and talked about the City's gay-inclusive non-discrimination hiring policy. Also on hand was Roanoke's Goodwill Ambassador, Mrs. Pearl Fu, (seated above) Executive Director and founder of Local Colors, Roanoke's annual festival celebrating the city's multicultural heritage with food and music.
A small crowd braved the 90 degree heat to kick back and enjoy some top notch entertainment provided by transgender singer/songwriter Georgie Jessup, who totally blew away the crowd, even drawing in some of the folks from the Motor City Madness car show which was also taking place downtown.

Also taking place over the weekend was the hugely successful Pride in the Arts International GLBT Film Festival, organized and hosted by Len Rogers, founder of the Stonewall Society, an organization dedicated to promoting GLBT artists and entertainers. Len (pictured top, left) has been hugely supportive of Roanoke Equality and arranged for Georgie's appearance. Thanks, Len! We couldn't have done it without you!
Mara Robbins, of the Floyd County chapter of PFLAG (Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) talked about the need for more outreach and support of GBLT kids in our schools. She was accompanied by her incredibly talented daughter, Kyla Ross, who treated the crowd to a moving rendition of Rainbow Connection.

Kyla Ross (right) and Mara Robbins (left)

Rev. Joe Cobb, of the Metropolitan Community Church of the Blue Ridge, pictured above with Molly McClintock, of the Roanoke Pride Committee and Equality Virginia (above, center) and her partner, shared his moving personal story of coming to Roanoke, expecting hostility and homophobia. Instead, Rev. Joe found a warm, welcoming community and ultimately met his partner. The couple now have two children.

Local singer, Sidney Vaught is shown here taking a break after his amazing performance. Sidney has also been incredibly supportive of Roanoke Equality and secured the voter registration forms for us. We actually did register a few new voters. We also gathered several signatures for our petition to Sen. Mark Warner to push forward with Don't Ask, Don't Tell repeal. By the way, the mayor loved your t-shirt, Sid, joking that he didn't have a very good track record with marriage and perhaps somebody should have voted on it for him.

Finally, my good friend and Roanoke Equality co-founder, Frank House spoke very eloquently about about the accomplishments of the GBLT community and how much work there is still left to be done. 
We did manage to get some air time in the evening news Saturday, on  Roanoke's WDBJ-7, that's me in the back. Unfortunately, they didn't post the video on their site. It's just as well, just as I was preparing for my interview, the camera's batteries died. So much for my big close up. I understand that Len Rogers took some video. I'll try to secure a copy for posting here. 
I want to thank everybody who took part in our event, especially all of those who helped out behind the scenes to pull this off, including, Len Rogers, Frank House, Richard Sifton, Sidney Vaught, Mara Robbins, Kyla Ross, Mayor David Bowers, Mrs. Pearl Fu, Rev. Joe Cobb, and our special musical guest, who traveled all the way from Baltimore, Md. to perform at our rally free of charge, Ms. Georgie Jessup.

I want to express a very special thanks to my partner of ten years, Paul, for being so wonderful and supportive as I go tilting at windmills. I love you, baby! 

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Friday, June 25, 2010

GLBT Film Festival Starts Tonight in Roanoke

Just a reminder, the Pride in the Arts International GLBT Film Festival kicks off tonight at the Shadowbox Cinema, 22 Kirk Ave., in downtown Roanoke. First up in this three day event is the documentary, "Woman in a Man's Suit", about the life and music of critically acclaimed transgender singer/songwriter Georgie Jessup, "what would you risk to be yourself?"

Georgie will be on hand performing her music after the film. There will be an opening night party with a cash bar until 12 midnight.

Roanoke's first ever GLBT film festival continues through the weekend with matinee and evening shows featuring other independent GBLT films. See the Pride in the Arts website for more details. Tickets are just $7.

Georgie Jessup will also be performing at Saturday's 2nd Annual Rally for GLBT Equality as our opening and closing act. The rallt takes place at Elmwood Park in downtown Roanoke from 10:45 am to 12:15 pm. I'll be taking on the hosting duties. Can't wait to see you all there
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Thursday, June 24, 2010

At last! The Return of "Viking Zombie Boyfriend", by Jeremy Rizza

Yay! After two weeks of clean-up in the aftermath of a messy flood in his condo posh studio, Jeremy Rizza is back with his weekly web comic "Viking Zombie Boyfriend".

Dill and Rorik ar your typical mid-western, bearish gay couple, with one tiny exception: Rorik is a 1,000-year-old undead viking zombie with lots of friends and acquaintances who also happen to be from European and Asian folklore. 

If it helps to suspend your disbelief, just remember there is a grain of truth at the heart of every myth. It's best not to over-think it.

When we last left Dill and Rorik, Dill was trying to get Rorik to admit that he is, in fact, friends with the annoyingly sweet Kagami, an ogre from Japanese folklore who copies everything Rorik does, from the way he dresses to his hobbies and other interests. 

As irritating as Rorik finds Kagami, he can't help but dig her for having so much in common with him. 

Visit for past strips, character back stories and cool merchandise.
Posted with the permission of the artist.

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Pa. Jury Rules Philly Can't Evict Homophobic Boyscouts

Some people are against scouting because they believe it militarizes kids and is nothing more than a breeding ground for the armed forces, others because it segregates by sex and reinforces old stereotypes of what is appropriate masculine or feminine behavior for children.

Personally, I enjoyed being a cub scout when I was a kid -- for about 5 minutes. It is so ironic that the one after school activity that gets kids ridiculed and bullied for, the group with the the gayest uniforms on the planet, has a "No Gays" rule. 

(Philadelphia) A jury says the city of Philadelphia cannot evict a local Boy Scouts chapter from a city-owned building for refusing to admit gays.

The city insisted that nonprofits given free use of its property must abide by local anti-discrimination laws.

The scouts said they can legally limit their membership because of a 2000 Supreme Court decision. They had sued in federal court to stop the eviction.

Cradle of Liberty Council leaders have tried to walk a fine line to retain city support without losing their national Boy Scouts charter. The national organization bans gays.

Scouts lawyer Jason Gosselin says he hopes the two sides can work out their differences in negotiations.
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Eric McCormack stars in the cautionary tale: "Finger Babies" (Video) NSFW

"Will and Grace" star Eric McCormack teaches a special Sex Ed class about the dangers of "vaginal/digital intercourse". Remember, this is what the religious right wants you to do instead of the butt secks. This is not your meemaw's After School Special. Definately, not suitable for work, but funny as hell, from "Funny or Die".

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

New Wave Wednesday: "Happy House", by Siouxsie and the Banshees (music video)

From Wikipedia:
"Happy House" is a song recorded by English post-punk band Siouxsie and the Banshees. The song was written by Banshees members Siouxsie Sioux and Steven Severin and it was released as the first single from the band's third album Kaleidoscope.

"Happy House" and the Kaleidoscope album marked a change in musical direction for Siouxsie and the Banshees due to the arrival of two new musicians : drummer Budgie previously from The Slits and guitarist John McGeoch previously from Magazine.

Budgie uses here a reggae vibe on drums and McGeoch plays both atmospheric and edgy guitars. Siouxsie stated that the band almost invented a new sound with this single : it was "Banshees - phase two".[1]

The single became the band's second top twenty hit, peaking at number seventeen in the UK singles chart.

Later, the song's introduction was sampled by the band Mindless Self Indulgence for the song "Bitches". The Italian dance act Cappella was sued for using the distinctive riff from "Happy House" in their song "U Got 2 Know" in the early 90's, without paying publishing, and they lost.[2] European band Ginger Ale also covered the song in 2003.

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Obama Serves Up More Lip Service at Pride Reception

Citing a laundry list of his accomplishments on LGBT issues, President Obama hosted a reception last night in honor of Pride Month.
  • Matthew Shepherd Hate Crimes Act: Check, 
  • Domestic partner benefits for federal workers: Check
  • FMLA benefits for Lesbian and Gay parents: Check.

In light of the fact that we've heard this all before, what can I say that I haven't said before?

Yes, he's done more for LGBT Americans than any other president in the history of the US. Yes, he's got a lot on his plate, but it sort of comes with the job. He made lots of promises to the LGBT community in return for our support and he's been fiddle around for 18 months with his piecemeal approach to helping us achieve full equality.

In the following video, the Big O addresses the crowd made up of LGBT youth, like Constance McMillen, who sued her school for the right to attend her prom with her girlfriend and country music star Chely Wright, who recently came out as a lesbian. Also in the carefully selected crowd were leaders of state LGBT rights groups, but leaders from national groups, like HRC's Joe Solmonese and GetEqual's Robin McGehee were notably not invited.

Notice that when he talks about passing an inclusive ENDA, he says that no one should be fired for being gay, but leaves out gender expression or identity. Did Obama tip his hand? Are trans people being thrown under the bus? Stay tuned folks. This should be in interesting summer.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

State LGBT Leaders Invited to White House Pride Reception, National Leaders Left Out

The President will play host to leaders from state LGBT organizations at today's Pride Month reception at the White House. Maybe these queer leaders will do what our national leaders don't seem to have the stones to do -- lead!

With the president taking so much heat from some national LGBT orgs and most LGBT bloggers, maybe he thought he'd call in the second string team, who might be more grateful and less critical. My guess is that that the Big O is in for a rude awakening. State groups are hungrier than the national orgs. They don't have the spotlight very often or the financial backing to get their messages out. I'm betting that at least some of them will use the opportunity to hammer the prez on his failure to deliver on ENDA and the repeal of DOMA and DADT.

The Washington Blade reports:
People speaking anonymously to the Blade have said invitations generally were restricted to the heads of state equality groups, members of the LGBT community with compelling stories and a contingent of LGBT youth.

The upcoming reception recalls a similar White House event last year. That reception came in the wake of the publication of a controversial legal brief from the Justice Department defending the Defense of Marriage Act, a move that incurred the rancor of many LGBT activists.

But this year’s reception follows no such controversy and seems to be targeting different members of the LGBT community. The leaders of national LGBT groups — including Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese — weren’t invited to the event next week, according to one source.

Leaders of state equality groups who were invited to the White House Pride reception and said they want to hear Obama speak about issues affecting LGBT people in the places they represent.

Ian Palmquist, executive director of Equality North Carolina, said he wants the president to urge Congress to move forward with pro-LGBT legislation, particularly the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

“I would like the president to publicly and vocally call on Congress to pass ENDA as soon as possible,” Palmquist said. “I believe that ENDA is the most important item on our agenda right now — and passing it would have a transformative effect on a lot of LGBT people in our country.”

North Carolina is among the states that have no laws intended to protect LGBT residents against discrimination in the workforce.

Palmquist said he would speak with Obama about the importance of ENDA if given the chance during the reception.

“I think I’d tell him about the impact that discrimination is having on people here in North Carolina and why it’s so important for him to stand up and ask that ENDA be passed as soon as possible,” he said.
According to On Top Magazine, one such notable invitee with a compelling story is teen activist Constance McMillen, who made headlines last year for suing the Itawamba County Mississippi school district for the right to attend her prom with her girlfriend.
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Obama tosses us another crumb: FMLA will now cover Gay and Lesbian Parents

The White House is expected to announce changes to the Family Medical Leave Act, the 1993 law that allows workers to take time off to care for family members due to illness or the arrival of a new baby. The New York Times is reporting that the new change would allow gay and lesbian parents to take time off to care for a sick child, regardless of whether they are the biological parent or have any legal parental rights.

What's missing from this new change is that taking time off to care for your same-sex spouse or partner is still not covered under FMLA due to the Defense of Marriage Act, which the president promised to overturn.

This is another one of Obama's signature moves with LGBT rights. He gives us just enough so he can pat himself on the back for it, but not enough to piss off the homophobes. Any time the president is criticized for his half-assed efforts on LGBT equality, he gets defensive and reminds us how much he's done for us.

I'm reminded of the scene in "The Color Purple" where the mayor's wife has drops Sofia (Oprah) off to spend Christmas day with her family. She can't manage to get her car in gear to drive herself home. When the menfolk try to help her out, she freaks out and thinks she's being attacked, screaming "Haven't I always been good to you people?!"

From The New York Times:
The new ruling indicates that an employee in a same-sex relationship can qualify for leave to care for the child of his or her partner, even if the worker has not legally adopted the child.

The ruling, in a formal opinion letter, tackles a question not explicitly addressed in the 1993 law. It is one of many actions taken by the Obama administration to respond to the concerns of gay men and lesbians within the constraints of the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman as husband and wife.

In April, Mr. Obama announced plans to grant hospital visiting rights to same-sex partners, and the Justice Department concluded that the Violence Against Women Act protects same-sex partners.

On Tuesday, Mr. Obama plans to welcome lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights advocates to a White House reception celebrating June as “LGBT Pride Month.”

The Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group, worked with the administration to develop the policy on family leave.

Jennifer W. Chrisler, executive director of the Family Equality Council, another advocacy group, estimated that one million lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender families were raising two million children.

The upshot of the Labor Department policy, she said, is that “if you act like a parent, do the work of a parent and raise a child like a parent, then you are a parent for the purpose of the Family and Medical Leave Act.”
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Wondering what happened to Viking Zombie Boyfriend?

You may have noticed that Viking Zombie Boyfriend hasn't appeared in it's regular Tuesday spot for a couple of weeks. Apparently there have been some technical problems that are being worked on. There have been times when the strip has been delayed for one reason or another. I usually just post is as soon as it's available and I'll that this time as well. Artist Jeremy Rizza posted the following message on his site last week:

6/14/10: Rizza Cartoon Studios (a.k.a. my condo) had some minor flooding last night.  It got under the carpet, so when I stepped anywhere there were fun squishing noises and huge wet spots would appear.  So this week’s strip is going to be delayed for a few days while I clean up the mess! What do you have to look forward to, eventually? Well, there’s three more strips down the pike dealing with Rorik’s friendship with Kagami, including a creative “punishment” he comes up with to pay Dill back for hounding him about it.  And in July? More Paco!

-- Jeremy Rizza

Monday, June 21, 2010

Join Us for the 2nd Annual Rally for GLBT Equality!

The park has been rented, the speakers are confirmed and all that's left is to write my speech. Mark your calendars and join us at the 2nd Annual Rally for GLBT Equality!

The very first "Pride parades" were actually protest marches. GLBT Americans took to the streets for the first time 40 years ago on the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots to demand equal rights. Join us as we honor those who came before us.

Please either print and distribute the flier below or pass it along via e-mail. Click on the image to view it, then right click and save it. Can't wait to see you all on Saturday!

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Happy First Day of Summer!

Yes, boys and girls, the Summer Solstice arrived at 7:28 Morning Wood Acres this morning as I started the coffee, let the ducks out and fetched the morning paper from the road. What a gorgeous morning it is.

Some interesting tidbits about the first day of Summer:

Today is Nude Hiking Day, the annual event that calls on naturists from all over the world to take to the woods to commune with Mother Nature au naturale. Around these parts most enthusiasts will be heading out to the Appalachian Trail wearing nothing but hiking boots and a fanny pack. Watch out for Poison Ivy and be sure to bring a buddy along to check you for ticks. Enjoy!

"Solstice" derives from the Latin words "sol", meaning "sun" and "stice", meaning "stand still". The Summer Solstice is the longest day of the year and the shortest night. After six months of the days getting longer, they begin to shorten. The midpoint is when the sun stands still.

Pagans called the Midsummer moon the "Honey Moon" for the mead made from fermented honey that was part of wedding ceremonies performed at the Summer Solstice.

Ancient Pagans celebrated Midsummer with bonfires, when couples would leap through the flames, believing their crops would grow as high as the couples were able to jump.

Midsummer was thought to be a time of magic, when evil spirits were said to appear. To thwart them, Pagans often wore protective garlands of herbs and flowers. One of the most powerful of them was a plant called 'chase-devil', which is known today as St. John's Wort and still used by modern herbalists as a mood stabilizer.
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Friday, June 18, 2010

Oldest Gay Bar in U.S. Closes its Doors After 71Years

You'd never guess to look at it, but the Cedar Brook Cafe has been the hub of the LGBT community in Fairfield County, CT for 71 years, making it the oldest continuously operated gay night club in the U.S. Sadly the club will be closing its doors on June 26th.

The Westport News reports:
Clem Bellairs, who has owned the club for 12 years, said his reasons for closing the Cedar Brook were financial.

"The landlord died and the people who bought it doubled my rent," he said. "I can't afford it anymore."

Bellairs, 57, bought the club in 1998 after going there since he was 21.

"It was closing down and they were going to turn it into a strip mall," he said. "I wanted to see it stay alive."

According to Dan Woog, author of School's Out: The Impact of Gay and Lesbian Issues on America's Schools, the Cedar Brook has played an important role within the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community for many years.

"In the early days, when bars were the only place gay people could congregate, it was a refuge," he said. "In the 1970s, when gay people came out more publicly, it was the center of Fairfield County gay life. In the 1980s, when more women started going, it helped bring the gay and lesbian communities closer together. Always, it was a rite of passage for young people -- for many, their first introduction to the gay community."

But Woog said the club was important to more than just the LGBT community.

"When it closes, there will be one less club in Fairfield County," he said. "So it's a loss for anyone, gay or straight, and one more indication of the dwindling night life in this area."

Woog described his first experience at the Cedar Brook as "eye-opening."

"For a long time, the Brook had a mystique for gay teenagers growing up in Westport," he said. "You wanted to know what it was like inside, but you didn't want anyone to know you wanted to know. I saw so many people having a great time, being themselves. I never knew there were so many gay people in Fairfield County!"
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Late Start Today, Stay tuned...

Getting a late start with this morning's updates. Had an 8am dental appointment with Dr. Pretty (not his real name, but Woof!). When he says open wide, I don't have to be told twice. This is not his picture either, but you get the idea.

Will be posting from work today on my breaks, so check back for the latest.
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Discussion Group, "Uncovering the Gender Transformation Experience", tonight in Roanoke

There will be a discussion group entitled "Uncovering the Gender Transformation Experience" tonight at Metropolitan Community Church of the Blue Ridge, planned and led by Brandi Parker of the MCC Congregation, with assistance from members of the MCC-Blue Ridge Social Justice & Outreach Ministry. Ms. Parker will be sharing her amazing journey through the MTF transition process.

With so much debate in the LGBT community about the inclusion of the transgender and transsexual people in our fight for equality, we owe it to ourselves to become better informed about our trans brothers and sisters. I challenge you to take part in this discussion group tonight. Ask your questions, listen with your heart. Admission and refreshments are free. Donations will be gratefully accepted.

Join us tonight, Friday, June 18, 2010
7:00pm - 8:30pm
MCC of the Blue Ridge
806 Jamison Ave. SE
Roanoke, VA
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