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Tallahassee’s Monthly LGBT Newspaper VOL. XVI, Issue 2 • February 2012 BRANCHING OUT is published monthly by The Family Tree Community Center, Inc. Appearance in this publication makes no inference about sexual orientation or gender identity.

BRANCHING OUT’S mission is to be the paper of record for the LGBT community of Tallahassee, and in that capacity it seeks to inform, advocate, engage, and entertain while being a responsible representative of the LGBT community and its allies to the outside world. Contact Branching Out: P.O. Box 38477 Tallahassee, FL 32315 (850) 222-8555 news@branchingoutnews.com

Who is My Valentine? Vickie Spray  Branching Out Contributor The reason (besides his muscled legs and the fact that he was in his underwear) that the dance Tom Cruise did in the movie Risky Business was so popular was because he was his own Valentine. Same for Ellen (no last name needed here) when she comes out dancing and all those women (Straight women? Really?) hoot and holler and watch every move Ellen makes. She is her own Valentine. They are both beautiful boxes of chocolate, a dozen red roses and pleasurable kisses. You do not have to be a dancer to be your own Valentine. What you do need however is to know how beautiful you are. That light behind Tom and Ellen’s eyes comes from inside of them and yes, granted, it does help that they are both physically beautiful, but that is not what the spark in their eyes is all about. That is not what drove them to seek their dream of acting. That is not what has allowed them to move through their dream career year after year becoming who they came to this earth to become. They love themselves. Sure, you can say, “What’s not to love?” We

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must remember that Ellen had to come to a place of total acceptance of who she was in a culture that could have spit her out like plum pit when she came out of the closet. A Valentine believes in who she is. And for Tom..well, there must be something in his closet that he had to overcome!

Submission Deadline 15th of Each Month

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/us/

Being your own Valentine only requires that you drop any negative thought you have believed about yourself. Drop them, throw them, toss them, spit them out, write them down and burn them, or say them out loud so that they leave your consciousness and remain outside of your mind. No more beating yourself up. No more self-flagellation. No more allowing the negative words someone else said to you to roam in your mind. You cannot be your own Valentine and also believe the crap the world may have told you. Fill that void where self-dislike once resided and insert a truth about yourself that you have never given yourself permission to believe. People who are their own Valentine know their attributes. They know they are not perfect

Continued on pg. 4

Production Team:

Andy Janecek, Executive Editor Steven Hall, Features Editor Josh Willoughby, Layout Editor Margeaux Mutz-Tso, Voices Editor Melissa Henderson, Circulation Assistant Ron Bunting, Circulation Assistant

A COPY OF THE OFFICIAL REGISTRATION AND FINANCIAL INFORMATION MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE DIVISION OF CONSUMER SERVICES BY CALLING TOLL-FREE WITHIN THE STATE (1-800-HELP-FLA). REGISTRATION DOES NOT IMPLY ENDORSEMENT, APPROVAL, OR RECOMMENDATION BY THE STATE.


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We thank those who make

possible!


A JOURNEY TO

EQUALITY by Jim VanRiper  Special to Branching Out Equality Florida Board of Directors

Recently I was asked to speak at the St. Stephen Lutheran Church about the history of Equality Florida and provide an update on the 2012 legislative session. For those who don’t know or were transplanted here in Florida like myself Equality Florida was established after a series of aggressively anti-gay movements back in the mid 1990’s

policy language including protections LGBT students. The September 22, 2010 opinion by 3rd District Court of Appeal struck down the 33-year ban on gay people being able to adopt a child. EQFL was instrumental in convincing Governor Christ and DCF not to appeal the court decision. However, the threat of a constitutional ban still exists, which is why Equality Florida’s role playing defense against attempts to introduce harmful language is critical. The 2012 Legislative Session is in full swing. While no bills have yet received hearings or been introduced to the floor of the Senate or House, the following bills have been filed: •

During this period then beauty queen by the name of Anita Bryant started a National campaign against homosexuality with particular focus on Florida after the Miami Dade Human Rights Ordinance was passed. Her campaign then focused on banning gay people from adopting children. This ban lasted for 33 years! Then there was the Johns Committee at University of Florida, which was basically a witch hunt bent on finding and getting rid of gays. On top of that in 1996 the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was passed. Born as the Florida Human Rights Task Force, Equality Florida was established in 1997 – when the gay community was again being demonized during the repeal of Human Rights Ordinances (HRO) in both Hillsborough and Tampa.

Equality Florida has since become Florida’s state wide LGBT organization protecting our community by working to pass legislation and prevent harmful legislation at the state level, helping local counties and municipalities implement policies and ordinances such as our own HRO and the recently passed domestic partner registry in Orlando. We in Leon County should be proud. Our HRO has become the model being implemented around the state. Equality Florida also works to change the political landscape by working with our allies on issues such as re-districting and building coalitions with groups that are willing to stand up with us on our issues.

COMMUNITY CENTER

Success has been seen in passing the Jeffery Johnston Stand Up for All Students Act, which is Florida’s anti-bullying law. After 8 years of working with partner organizations this law was passed and Equality Florida worked with the Department of Education on drafting the model policy language to be implemented in schools around the state. Currently 60% of all Florida students are protected from bullying with specific

UPCOMING

EVENTS February 6-7: Equality Florida Lobby Days February 7: 6pm Equality Florida Membership Mixer @ Lee’s Wine Bar

Florida Competitive Workforce Act would amend current law in chapter 760 by simply adding LGBT protections. House Bill HB247 by Rep. Scott Randolph (Orange) Business & Consumer Affairs Subcommittee Civil Justice Subcommittee Appropriations Committee Economic Affairs Committee. Senate Bill SB340 by Senator Nan Rich(Broward/Miami Dade) Judiciary Committee (JU) Regulated Industries Committee (RI) Commerce and Tourism Committee (CM) A Cyber Bullying law has also been introduced. However the current approach to this bill does not specifically protect the LGBT community it is important that we lobby to have specific language included. House Bill HB627 by Rep. Dwight Bullard (Miami Dade) K-20 Innovation Subcommittee PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee Education Committee Senate Bill SB622 by Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff (Broward/Palm Beach) Education Pre-K – 12 Committee (ED) Budget Committee (BC) A Domestic Partnership bill has also been introduced. One Continued on pg. 5 might question why

February 9: 7pm Tallahassee PRIDEFEST Planning Committee Meeting @ Krewe de Gras Midtown Tavern

February 23: 7pm Tallahassee PRIDEFEST Planning Committee Meeting @ Krewe de Gras Midtown Tavern

February 13: 6:30pm Board of Directors Meeting

February 27: 6:30pm Board of Directors Workshop

February 14: 7pm Transgender Tallahassee Gender Chat

March 23: 8pm Spring Fling Live DJ, Dancing, Cash Bar Hosted by The Family Tree @ American Legion Hall, Lake Ella $5 at the door, 18+ Event Sponsored by ABJames DJ

February 15: Branching Out March Issue Deadline

March 30: Door 8pm, Show 9pm GenderNation X: A Drag Show! A sophisticated labyrinth of gender expression! Hosted by Aidan Justus Benefit for Transgender Tallahassee @ The Warehouse $5 at the door, 18+ Event Sponsored by ABJames DJ ALL EVENTS TAKE PLACE AT THE FAMILY TREE UNLESS OTHERWISE INDICATED. For more information about any of these events, contact The Family Tree at 850.222.8555 or staff@familytreecenter.org.

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Back to

BA SICS

by Darius Dupins • Branching Out Contributor

“What do the lonely do at Christmas,” asked The Emotions. Girl, I wish I knew, but you think you can tell me what the “lonely” do for Valentine’s Day? The general idea is that single people probably sit around watching sappy love stories while they eat gallons of ice cream and then proceed to end their night by hanging themselves from their shower rod. Since my breakup from my ex in September, I’ve never been so excited to be single. From dating, flirting and the occasional “eye sex”, the fun never ends. Also during this time, I’ve found a new appreciation of myself and a new found love for who I am, which is why on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2012, I’m going to treat myself to a card, maybe even some chocolate, and of course an amazing candlelit dinner.

tree FRIEND OF THE

BECOME A FRIEND OF THE TREE TODAY! We’d like to thank our 2012 Friend of the Tree Benefactor Members! Andy Janecek Bennett Chesser Chuck Strom John Wallace Skye Dakota Nelson Steven Hall

Okay, I’m not entirely serious about those plans, but being single on Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be such an awful thing. People in relationships seem to look down or feel sympathetic to those who are “lonely.” Being single doesn’t constitute anyone of being “lonely.” You can be “lonely” in a relationship; we’ve all been there. To all my single people, I want you to celebrate yourself this upcoming Valentine’s Day. Stop thinking a man or woman is going to make you happy. The only person that can fulfill your needs is you. Trust in yourself, love yourself, get back to basics and start putting yourself first. With this being said, turn up that Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It), rid all thoughts of suicide and rejoice in being single. Besides, buying a gift for someone else is so overrated.

Who is My Valentine? (continued from pg. 1)

and they do not want to be perfect. Who they want to be is THEMSELVES. They know they have something to offer this world and they do not make any apologies for it. They are not pompous, they simply have allowed themselves to live a fun-loving life that recognizes their Valentine status and they know harsh judgment comes from non-Valentine sorts of folks. They ignore what non-Valentine folks say because non-Valentine folks do not know what they are talking about. It seems to me that 2012 would be an excellent year to become your own Valentine. Vickie Spray is a Spiritual Adviser who assists people in finding their own inner Valentine. She can be reached at 850-322-6944 or vickiespray@ yourlifeexpressions.com.

Tallahassee Prime Timers A social group for mature men, featuring gatherings, house parties, monthly dinners and weekly happy hours

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PrimeTimersWW.org/talprime


TRANSGENDERSCOPE by Margeaux Mutz-Tso • Branching Out Production Team

Lately I have been reading columns by editorialists Eugene Robinson and Leonard Pitts Jr. exposing Rick Santorum. What a noble cause it is! What has interested me most in their penning; in lieu of my recent marriage, is the theme of gay rights including gay marriage. Eugene Robinson illuminated my mind first, stating that president wannabe Rick (not to be confused with Scott, then again maybe, oh forget it, just be glad neither will be our president) is a cultural warrior who has equated same-sex marriage with polygamy, pedophilia and bestiality---and argued that gays and lesbians should not serve openly in the military because and he quotes “they’re alone in close quarters, they live with people, they obviously shower with people.” I, as a transwoman (married to a woman) who was once verbally equated to a pedophile by a speaker at a County Commission meeting for our since enacted HRO, don’t take his quotes so much as the ravings of a lunatic, but rather as proof that my actions in search of authenticity must never be limited by the rhetoric of bullies.

Robinson goes on to say that Santorum doesn’t have a problem with homosexuality, and once again he quotes “just with homosexual acts.” I’m confused! Is he saying that a gay person and here I am going to add in transgender person for the sake of argument, is ok if they don’t act on what they are thinking? Theoretically, a person could just think of themselves as gay or trans but it has been my experience that certain defining actions will follow even if clandestine. Hell, according to some isn’t the thought just as damning! I remember as a youth dreaming of living as a woman. Was I a heathen transsexual in that moment and doomed to pedophilia (as my accuser says)? Or did I become one of the damned when I put on my first bra, panties or skirt? Or was it when I took my first spironolactone pill to block testosterone from polluting my body? Or was it when I began taking estrogen which began the feminizing process that finally made me feel right? Or lastly, because I probably won’t pursue sexual reassignment surgery (SRS) ---though my surgeon left enough tissue to

do so--- was it the orchiectomy (removal of the testicles) I just had in December of 2011? In any case, I and many others have taken action to be ourselves despite the disapproval of bullies like Rick Santorum. Now at least in regards to gay marriage we all can see light at the end of the tunnel. As Leonard Pitts Jr. reported in a recent article, a 2010 survey by the Pew Research Center shows that support for marriage equality is on the rise among all age groups, but noted that the support is highest among the young. Among those born after 1980, 53% approve (as opposed to 39% who do not). May youth be served, especially in this the month of the Valentine. Hopefully their vision will lead to a non-judgmental loving world for us all! Margeaux Mutz-Tso is the facilitator of Transgender Tallahassee and owns a local salon – Hairvoyance. Reach her at margeaux@familytreecenter.org.

A Journey to Equality (continued from pg. 3)

after Amendment 2 that this could be passed, however the precedence for exactly that did happen in Oregon on the heels of a marriage amendment. The big problem here is getting it heard in the Children and Families Committee. The committee chair is the same Rhonda Storms who was successful in getting Pride banned in Hillsborough County. Senate Bill SB166 by Sen. Eleanor Sobel (Broward) Children, Families (Rhonda Storms Chair!) Elder Affairs (CF) Judiciary (JU) Health Regulation (HR) Budget (BC) House Bill HB139 by Rep. Mark Pafford(Plam beach) Civil Justice Subcommittee Appropriations Committee Judiciary Committee I am often asked “How can I get involved?” First and foremost, elect LGBT friendly candidates. You can also participate in EQFL Lobby Days - February 6 & 7. To register visit the Equality Florida web site. Join us for a post lobby days membership mixer at Lee’s Wine bar on February 7th at 6-8pm and hear the latest from those who spent the day lobbying. You can also support the work of Equality Florida by becoming a member and writing a check. Locally we will also be holding our annual Gala event. If you are interested in helping contact me. We also have sponsorship opportunities for you and your business. Due to changes in the legislative calendar this year, the plan is to incorporate the annual Gala with Tallahassee Pride week this year. Jim VanRiper is a member of the Equality Florida Board of Directors and is a former Chair of The Family Tree Community Center. He can be reached at jvanriper@comcast.net.

For more information about Equality Florida, visit www.eqfl.org or facebook.com/equalityfl.

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LOVe is in the air 18 y r ua r b pm Fe 0 0 8: Gentle Shepherd MCC Church 4738 Thomasville Road

Community Resource Directory Community Organizations • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Pride Student Union PSU—FSU’s Lesbian/Gay/ Bisexual/Transgender Student Union 850-644-8804, www.fsu.edu/~sga/pride Youth Group A group for youth/teens 850-222-8555 youthgroup@familytreecenter.org Prime Timers A club for mature men over 21 850-877-4479, www.groups.yahoo.com/group/talprime Tallahassee Area Lesbian Moms rainbowshappen@lycos.com Big Bend Cares Support Group for HIV-positive members Mondays, 7-8 , www.bigbendcares.org Healthline 211 (Telephone Counseling and Referral Service) Crisis intervention and referrals 24 hours a day, 850-224-NEED (850-224-6333) Refuge House Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Center www.refugehouse.com, e-mail refuge.house@tallahassee.net 24 Hr Hotline: 850-681-2111, LGBT Program: 850-395-7631 Safe Zone Tallahassee, A program designed to identify people who consider themselves to be open to and knowledgeable about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered issues, 850-644-2003 Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), 850-597-2374 North Florida Lesbians Listserve: nfll@yahoogroups.com GLAAM: Gays, Lesbians and Allies Advancing Medicine - Florida State College of Medicine, GLAAM is a student group at FSU College of Medicine that promotes equality in healthcare. ­— jmo09@med.fsu.edu TCC Pride - tccpridegrp@gmail.com FAMU’s LGBT Pride Student Union - facebook.com/groups/FAMUpride

Religious Support All Saints Catholic Community............................................................................656-3777 Gentle Shepherd Metropolitan Community Church...................................878-3001 Nichiren Buddhism (contact Carol)....................................................................878-8467 Quaker Meeting.......................................................................................................878-3620 St. Catherine of Siena (Catholic)..........................................................................421-0447 Unitarian Universalist Church.............................................................................385-5115 St. Stephen Lutheran Church..............................................................................385-2728 United Church in Tallahassee...............................................................................878-7385 Temple Israel.............................................................................................................877-3517 First Presbyterian Church of Tallahassee..........................................................222-4505 Lake Jackson United Methodist Church 4223 North Monroe Street...................................................................................562-1759 Red Hills Pagan Council ......................................................... www.redhillspagans.org

Submit your organization for the resource directory! Email staff@familytreecenter.org or call (850) 222-8555

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Please support the businesses that support your community!

We have a wide selection of:

Birdseed Bird Feeders Optics Nesting Boxes Birdbaths Nature Gifts

1505-2 Governor’s Square Blvd

850-576-0002

www.wbu.com/tallahassee

Design Enterprises 

Offering Landscape Design Services 

Landscape Consultation and Design for New and Existing Landscapes and Garden Patios Phone: 850‐661‐5943  E‐mail: merlinway@comcast.net 

Michael Waddell 

Landscape Designer  Landscape Designer    Consultation  $65.00 Per Hour  Design Fee  Per Scope of Project 

The Family Tree has 10x10 pop-up tents available for rent. Contact staff@familytreecenter.org for more information.

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The Family Tree P.O. Box 38477 Tallahassee, FL 32315 RETURN SERVICE REQUESTED

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TALLAHASSEE, FL PERMIT NO. 87

February, 2012  

This months issue takes a look at Valentine's Day and provides an update on issues before the Florida Legislature that impact the LGBT commu...

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