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Captain’s Log May 2014 Spring has sprung and Pride is in the air! While the Out & Proud Community is taking the opportunity to connect with each other during our celebratory Pride month, we at Proud Times will be providing information and commentary on what is happening, when it is happening, where it is happening, how it is happening, and why it is happening. Since our inception, our goal has been to shine a spotlight on the Inland Northwest’s Out & Proud Community. In addition to providing free advertising for non-profit organizations, we continue increasing visibility of these invaluable resources. They are here for our community, and I strongly believe that we should be there for them as well. In order for us to improve the quality of our lives, we must continually find ways to work together, support each other, and become a more cohesive community. Imperial Sovereign Court of Spokane Empresses Express this concept in Trisha Tucker-Wegner’s article. Similar sentiments are found in articles in this Pride Issue. Michelle Cuttino delves into the resiliency of LGBT Community Centers in “Out & Proud in the Big Apple.” Jeremy Price-Ballew shares perspectives from local radio show hosts “bob”, Cat, Jonathan, William and Greg. These personalities, and many others, are echoing the need for more cooperation and participation in efforts to realize our goals. When I put a call out for writers to submit articles with a focus on lesbians, Michelle Cuttino answered the call. “Lesbians Who Tech”—what a great subject! Not only is this article informative, it is extremely helpful in efforts to connect ... wait for it ... lesbians who tech.
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Jerry Rabushka makes me smile. Why? In “Livin’ in the 509,” ze is incorporating gender-neutral pronouns. This might not register to many of our readers, but I’m thrilled to know that levels of awareness and inclusiveness are being raised. What else is making me smile? A poem by Venson Phillip Matthews which sprang from “...an online dating site experience.” I look forward to future works by Mr. Matthews and encourage other poets to send in their submissions. In addition to sharing a portion of his personal story, J’son M. Lee did a phenomenal job of interviewing General Motors’ LGBT Communications Manager Joe LaMaruglia. J’son provides us with intelligent insights and a better understanding of what gains are being made for the Out & Proud Community. In our local community, we are making connections with the local businesses. We owe a debt of gratitude to Todd Tucker-Wegner for sharing his expertise in sales. I’m elated to share that Pizza Rita and Chairs Public House became our first sponsors for the plastic bags Pride festival-goers will have in hand as they collect materials. Baristas from Spokane’s Hot Cup of Joe will be wearing underwear designer Andrew Christian’s apparel as they hand out these fabulous Proud Times bags. Together, we can make our world a better place.
Dean Ellerbusch Proud Times Executive Editor
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Table of Contents
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ALL BLENDS By Kurt Schmierer
As many people know, starting a business is no easy undertaking. Opening an espresso business in today’s market, especially in an area where they are on almost every corner, presents an even more difficult challenge.
Exuding a comfortable confidence and relying on a wealth of experience, Christopher Mullins redesigned the mold with Hot Cup of Joe. The first of its kind in Spokane, this espresso stand features shirtless male baristas. That’s right! Shirtless studs serving up a hot cup of joe. After showing up on several national Out and Proud publication websites, such as OUT and The Advocate, I took notice and wanted to see for myself what was so titillating. So, I took a mid-winter drive across town to warm up at this new hot spot. It was only 24º when I pulled up to the window. Damn! It was true! Not only was there one guy with his shirt off, there were three... Wow! As I watched the guys go about their business, I lost track of time and Bam!... in my face was a shirtless guy handing me my drink with a smile. Wow... he smiled at me. Turning three shades of red, I think I started drooling a bit as well. Regardless, I was treated very well—and the coffee... well, it was as delicious as the bare-istas... Oops!... sorry... baristas.
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Before our interview, I learned that Hot Cup of Joe “welcomes all blends.” That’s such a great motto! Whether you are Out & Proud or straight, you can stop by for some friendly service. Let’s get to know a bit about Christopher and Hot Cup of Joe...
Why did you decide on shirtless guys serving coffee?
What made you choose the espresso business?
I have seen articles about Hot Cup of Joe in other Out & Proud publications—more than heterocentric publications. As the owner, how does that make you feel?
Well, I dabbled in coffee back in high school and, with all the talk, I heard about the girls’ stands and I wanted one of my own. After talking to my business partner, Randy Kaiser, we felt it was a good project and moved forward. Do you own other coffee stands or other businesses? As of right now, I have other things on my plate. But Hot Cup of Joe is my priority right now.
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Well, it was a “no brainer.” I had been a stripper for years, and it felt like a positive move—as well as, I enjoy wearing very little.
I feel it’s great! I knew that the Out & Proud community would definitely have something to say. And, in response to that, I encourage everyone to come in. All blends are welcome here. What is your relationship with the Out & Proud Community? Do you consider yourself a supporter of this community?
I believe that it is a very real part of society. People need to get with it. I feel that it isn’t anyone’s right to limit others, as long as everyone is getting along. But I have lots of Proud friends, and would gladly stand by them. We are all the same, once you pull off the skin.
Let’s take a break from the questions for a few and meet the owner and a few of the baristas.
What is the criteria to be an employee of Hot Cup of Joe?
A six pack, great with all customers, like running around in underwear, quick-witted, and just a great person—period. It’s not all about the money here. I am more about how an employee acts than what he makes. Do more women or men drive up to the window for a cup of joe? To be honest, it’s about 50/50. Will we be seeing your guys at the Pride Parade and Festival on June 14th? I’m sure they would be a hit! I really think that it will be a blast. Watch for Hot Cup of Joe to be mingling—for sure.
This is the owner and manager, Christopher.
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Don’t be afraid to ask Eli about his tatts.
What does the future hold? Do you see yourself branching out with other shirtless venues? Maybe a Hot Cup of Joe chain? I definitely would like to franchise. I have a lot in store yet. Just keep watching. Hot Cup of Joe will be around for a long time. Thank you for taking the time to talk to Proud Times and sharing a little about you and the business with our readers.
HOT guys are not the only beauties who serve your espresso. Meet Nessa!
Derek will serve you up with one strong cup of joe every time.
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When you have a hankerin’ for an espresso— or great eye-candy—hit the streets, go to Hot Cup of Joe, get a mean drink, and know
“All Blends Are Welcome.” Visit Hot Cup of Joe:
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Recently, a few of the Proud Times family were invited to the local radio show, Queer Sounds on KYRS. We got to see what goes on behind the scenes and get to know the hosts, ‘bob’ and Cat.
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If you are not familiar, Queer Sounds is a local community radio show dedicated and focused on supporting independent LGBT artists who are undervalued and basically unknown. Discussing how the show got its start, ‘bob’ told me, “Queer Sounds first went on the air ten years ago, when the radio station had a public forum to ask people what the people wanted to hear on the air. DJ Irey told them she wanted a station where lesbian, gay, and trans artists get played. Queer Sounds was one of their first shows on the air. It has grown over the years into the show that is it now, highlighting LGBT artists and happenings in the community.” Reflecting on moving to Spokane and becoming a part of the show, ‘bob’ said, “I moved here in September 2006, and I used to do community radio in Salt Lake City. I was part of KRCL and I did a show there called Radio Active. So, when I moved to Spokane, I didn’t know anyone—but I knew where you go to find people who support marginalized voices in community radio shows. So, I showed up
and said, ‘How can I volunteer?’.” DJ Irey kept asking ‘bob’ back, and she is now in her eighth year on the show. Speaking about DJ Irey, ‘bob’ said, “She had a hard time leaving. This was kind of her baby and she did amazing— she never missed a show. I think when I came along, she finally had the first Thanksgiving she could have with her chosen family and friends. It was a sweet kinda passing of the torch. I’m always appreciative of Irey.” Cat had been a volunteer and board member of the Rainbow Center (now the Inland Northwest LGBT Center). “I would come in and talk about the LGBT Center and what was going on.” A while after DJ Irey decided to leave the show in ‘bob’’s care, ‘bob’ asked Cat to get more involved with the show. Cat became the new co-host and is in her third year on the show. ‘bob’ added, “In the last few months, Cat has
really taken the lead to be the main producer of Queer Sounds.” A strength of the show comes from the cohosts’ willingness to discuss important topics, then learn and grow from the discussion in a positive and genuine way that grabs the listeners’ attention. ‘bob’ went on to say, “When Cat and I talk, sometimes we move each other. You can hear us have aha moments on the microphone, where we are wiling to be moved based on a conversation, and I think that’s the part where people don’t have conversations…” Both of them bring a slew of experience from previous community work; they bring both passion and skill to the show. The main focus of the show is on playing music by independent Out & Proud artists—as a way of taking care of those people in our community, and showing support to Out & Proud artists.
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Queer Sounds would like to see their show branch out further with other means of media formats. When asked about the future of the show, Cat said, “We have talked about doing a webcast of our shows, and we would love to get more interactive and (have) more interactive ways to enjoy Queer Sounds.” Besides new interactive ways to get involved, ‘bob’ wants to find new ways to reach out to the community and see them get involved. “For the next ten years really, just trying to let people know that this (radio program) is a resource for the LGBT community, not just the straight community so they can feel like we are a cool city—‘cause we have a queer show.” A common problem seems to be that the community Queer Sounds supports, and acts as a voice for, does not get involved. “Straight people love Queer Sounds; they’re calling in and they’re telling us, ‘Oh my gosh, who was that?’. I love that! And they’re supporting the queer artists.” Both ‘bob’ and Cat encourage people to get involved with the show, as well as the community. When asked about the best
way to get involved and reach a broader portion of the community, ‘bob’ said, “Pride day, inperson face-to-face at events—different people show up to different events.” Whether you are new to the show or a longtime fan, it’s easy to appreciate the dedication and passion put into the show. At the close of each show the same Erasure song is played, and the title represents very well what it is all about—“A Little Respect!”. Be sure to tune into Queer Sounds on air every Thursday from 6:00-8:00 PM on KYRS community radio 88.1 and 92.3 FM, or listen online at www.kyrs.org. To get involved, volunteer or donate to help support community radio and Queer Sounds, check out the info below.
Proud Times thanks ‘bob’ and Cat for all their support, dedication and passion to the Out and Proud community, and supporting the artists within it.
Queer Sounds—It’s what’s for dinner!
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Out & Proud in the
By Michelle Cuttino
Greenwich Village or “the Village”, a largely residential neighborhood on the lower west side of Manhattan in New York City, is well-known for its gay-friendly neighborhoods and activities. From bars to community centers, and everything in between, the Village has much to offer its LGBT inhabitants. The majority of New York City’s LGBT community consists of minorities, who reside in the four boroughs outside of Manhattan. There are over one million residents in the Bronx alone, and there is not so much as one
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gay bar in the county. Amid scandal involving the former executive director, the only gay and lesbian center in the Bronx closed down after sixteen years. When it closed, it left many in the borough desiring another establishment that would provide the services and support they needed. Their wish came true once a new center opened months later when the Union Community Health Center (UCHC) partnered with the Bronx LGBTQ Center. I caught up with co-founder, Peter C. Frank, to discuss how the new center will help its members live their lives out and proud in the Big Apple.
What is your title and some of your duties? I’m one of the co-founders of the organization, as well as the board secretary, which is an officer of the nonprofit corporation. I am legally responsible for a number of things, such as keeping minutes of board meetings, interacting with the press, managing the organization’s official communications, etc.
Additionally, I voluntarily take on a number of other tasks and duties. I’m trying to better focus my efforts in specific areas so I’m not stretched out too thin, which is what it was like during the first year of our existence. Thankfully, we’ve had some new people come in who are volunteering their time, services, and talents to the Center—so that’s helped us out tremendously.
Why did you decide to reopen the Bronx Center following the embezzlement scandal that closed the last center? I first need to correct one facet of your question; we’re a brand-new organization with no ties to the old center. We haven’t reopened the old center. We’re building an entirely new one completely from scratch. That being said, the reason I personally started working on building this new organization is that due to my proximity to the Bronx, I’ve grown to care about it and the people who live there. When I moved
to Yonkers, I started meeting people from the Bronx and exploring its many hidden gems. I have been an activist for my entire adult life and was involved with other LGBTQ community centers in New York State. After I learned of the old Bronx Community Pride Center shutting down, I felt a very strong need to do something to support the LGBTQ community there. I began to look for ways to fill the void left by BCPC’s closure. BCPC served somewhere between 3,000 to 5,000 unique individuals every month, and its closure displaced these individuals and the support they were receiving. The solution we developed was to build a brand-new organization, completely from scratch, starting from the ground up. And that’s what we’ve been doing for the past 1.5 years. We’ve made a great deal of progress in building a new LGBTQ community services center in the Bronx, with little to no resources. There’s still so much more that needs to be done, though.
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Because of what happened in the past, we decided that openness and transparency should be the cornerstone of our new Center as we began working on building a new organization. Our board meetings are open to the public. They’re streamed live over the internet and then automatically archived on YouTube. The community—or anyone for that matter—can go onto our YouTube channel and see exactly what we’re doing at any time. It keeps us accountable to those who matter the most: our communities.
a safe space for other, licensed organizations to provide support and services to LGBTQ and LGBTQ-supportive individuals, to do everything normally associated with a community services organization, and for any other lawful, charitable purpose(s) in accordance with the provisions of its Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws in which the Members and/or Board of Directors of the Center so elect.
What is the Center’s mission?
What are some of the services the LGBTQ Community Services Center provides?
Our official mission statement is to provide a safe space for all Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) and LGBTQ-supportive individuals in the Bronx and surrounding areas (upper Manhattan, lower Westchester County) to meet, gather, socialize and receive support and services; to provide
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In short, we are here to serve and support our communities.
We currently are able to offer a weekly support group for LGBTQ youth as well as a free legal clinic. Currently, the legal clinic offers volunteer attorneys who listen to a person’s needs, figures out their legal or quasi-legal
issue(s), provides general guidance, and referrals to organizations that will be able to offer them direct legal assistance. We hope to expand on this service in the near future to provide workshops on the Tuesdays that the clinic doesnâ€™t operate, which will help keep our communities informed about various legal issues and also offer some of the same referrals and guidance that the clinic provides. We hope to be able to offer support groups for young MSM (men who have sex with men), as
well as a support group for women, in the very near future. Additionally, we hope to start a monthly open mic/poetry slam/karaoke night in the Bronx. These are all things that have been or are being planned. In the future, weâ€™d like to operate a help line, offer peer support services, and recovery groups, as well as additional social and recreational programming. Our goal is to provide the supportive services centered on clinical services that we are partnering with other organizations to provide.
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How many active members does the Center have at the current time?
community—including, but not limited to people of varied age, culture, ethnicity, gender, genderidentity, language, race, sexual orientation, geographical location and religious views.
We are a membership-based nonprofit organization, and anyone can become a member. There are provisions for those who have financial difficulties. The Center currently has approximately 35 dues-paid members (including the board—being a member of the Center is a prerequisite to running or a position on the board). A handful of volunteers are basically doing the work that has allowed us to accomplish what we have done so far. I’m very happy that we have more people coming forward who want to get involved and help out.
We have a wonderful new volunteer coordinator, Lucy Recio. Our new president, Moises L. Cascante, is really helping to move the Center forward and progress in our efforts and goals. Our new treasurer, Michael J.D. Warner, is stepping up to the plate, and there are a few new volunteers who are really contributing to this cooperative effort. We have the makings of a fabulous team, and that’s a great beginning for us.
You don’t have to be a member in order to participate in our programs or services, however. But being a member gives you certain voting and other rights in the organization.
In what ways can individuals become involved in The Center? For starters, they can join and become a member in the Center. That gives them certain rights under New York State law, as well as other rights we enumerate in our by-laws. Additionally, people can volunteer to serve on a number of various committees that we have, as well as volunteer generally. For instance, in order to provide peer support services, we’ll need to find individuals who are interested in being volunteer peer facilitators. There are a great many ways that folks can get involved. We want to make sure that everyone knows that the Bronx LGBTQ Center welcomes and encourages participation by everyone. It doesn’t matter how you identify yourself or how others perceive you—we welcome you. We welcome contributions from everyone, as long as they interact constructively with our
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Do you think the Bronx still lacks a presence for the LGBTQ community? Yes. Right now, there really isn’t a gathering place in the Bronx for the LGBTQ community. There’s nothing cohesive. There’s no center. Hopefully, we’ll be able to raise enough money to open in some sort of space this year, which will enable us to expand upon the services and programs we’ve been able to offer so far. Also, it hopefully will serve as a sanctuary for the community in the Bronx—a safe space where anyone can go to and feel at home, feel welcomed, and feel loved. Until that changes—that is, until we get a safe space where people know they can go to and let all their friends know about it, I don’t really see things changing very much. We will continue to partner with other organizations and utilize donated space to provide services and support our community until we’re in our own safe space. Hopefully, the community will surprise me and come out in droves. To date, though, that hasn’t happened.
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How will the LGBTQ Community Services Center of the Bronx, Inc. help bridge the gap in the city’s LGBT presence? By helping to bring our communities together. Once we open in a space of our own (which, again, requires funding), there will be a place for the community to gather together, physically. There will be a place for people to go to, in the Bronx itself, instead of having to schlep to Manhattan or the other boroughs. There will be a safe space out of which we can launch additional programs and services, and partner with other organizations to do so as well. We hope to bring a “home” to the LGBTQ communities in the Bronx and surrounding areas. Once we’re able to do that, we can expand our outreach. We’ll be able to invite other organizations that are providing services to the community to have a physical presence in our safe space. And with that, we’ll have begun building a new home for the community in the Bronx.
Why do you think it’s important to make available places like the LGBTQ Community Services Center of the Bronx, Inc.? The Bronx is over fifty-seven square miles in size. We have a needs-based survey that people have been filling out. Statistically, the Bronx has the highest percentage of lesbianheaded families with children in the nation, the highest percentage of LGBTQ people of color in NYC, the highest newly diagnosed cases of HIV and other STIs, and vastly under-reported incidences of hate-based violence. Additionally,
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there are no health care facilities geared specifically toward the LGBTQ community. All of this contributes to a substantial need for an LGBTQ community services center to exist in the Bronx, which is further supported by the preliminary results we’ve received from our survey.
What Pride activities do the Center host, or actively participate? The Bronx is the only borough that does not have a separate Pride organization running a Pride celebration event. The Center, like many around the nation, currently handles our Pride festival, through our Pride committee (which anyone in the community can volunteer to join and serve on). Last year, we held our first Pride event—with a bit of a twist. In addition to celebrating Pride, we wanted to do something for the community. We combined aspects and components of a health fair into our Pride celebration. This year, we hope to expand upon last year’s success, and have even more health providers participating and providing
an expanded range of health care services to the community at the event. Our 2014 Bronx LGBTQ Pride & Health Fair will be held on Saturday, July 19th, from 12-6pm at Crotona Park near the Amphitheatre.
What advice can you give to others looking to open a center in their local areas? What are some starting points for them? Definitely contact CenterLink and InterPride. They are amazing, helpful organizations that have provided a great deal of support and assistance to us. Building a new center—especially from scratch—is a huge, massive undertaking. Most people don’t realize how much work goes into it. My previous experience with other centers in the area helped prepare me for this task, but it’s still a ginormous amount of work. Even the small group we have who are currently doing most of the work now, we can’t do it by ourselves. There is a dire need for volunteers and others who will assist the organization and help it grow. We’d like to have many, many more people involved—the more the merrier! Finally, whatever you do, make sure that you get your paperwork right! Unless you have
previous successful experience, hire an attorney and get other advisors to assist. It’s not an easy task!
Please tell our readers how they can contact the Center and/or donate to your cause. We can be found on the web at http:// bronxlgbtqcetner.org or called at 347-LGBTBX1 (please leave a message if no one answers—someone will get back to you, I promise!). In addition to our general e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org), we are all over social media—on Facebook (http://fb.me/ bronxlgbtqcenter), Twitter and Instagram (@BxLGBTQCenter), Google+ (http://google. com/+BronxlgbtqcenterOrg) and LinkedIn (http:// bit.ly/BxLGBTQcntr). If you look for us, chances are, you’ll find us. If you’d like to become a member, just visit our web site, and look for the options in the righthand column. There, you can make a donation, or join to become a member of the Center. Alternately, you can send money to us at Bronx LGBTQ Center, PO Box 356, Bronx, NY 10463 or via PayPal to finance@bronxlgbtqcenter. org. We are a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt not for profit organization, so your donation could be considered tax deductible by the IRS.
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Finally, if you wish to get in touch with me directly, please feel free to send me an e-mail: email@example.com. Thanks so much for allowing us to tell our story! Thank you for sharing your story with us, Peter! The LGBT community in New York City is growing rapidly. My hope is that the Bronx LGBTQ Center becomes a catalyst for other LGBT hubs in and around the New York metropolitan area, thus serving as an inspiration to other organizations to assist those individuals living out and proud in their respective communities. Frank summed it up best when asked what his aspirations were for the Center. “Hopefully we’ll have our own space in five years and be in the midst of a capital campaign to secure our own building. It’s our hope that the Center will serve as a beacon of light and love for the community, something that brings us all together as human beings and serves to lift one another up,” he said.
Michelle “Big Body” Cuttino was born and raised in Bronx, New York. She is the author of “Love & Happiness” as well as the “Me & Mrs. Jones” short story series. Cuttino is an esteemed book reviewer and columnist for African Americans on the Move Book Club (AAMBC), Black Literature Magazine and Proud Times Magazine, and once optioned one of her screenplays with Flavor Unit Films, Inc. She currently heads Big Body Broadcasting, which showcases her BlogTalkRadio Shows, The Q-Spot With Big Body and The My Big Girls Panties Show, as well as A Different Kind Of Love and Loveology. Her contact info:
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by beautiful people and beautiful things. I remember seeing pictures of my mother and grandmother at lavish parties in his home. They looked so glamorous. On the rare occasion that he’d come by J’son M. Lee back to North Carolina, I am a proud black gay man. I’d stare at him in awe. He always had some tall, handsome man with him. I’d sneak and For many years I couldn’t say that because stare some more. I knew then I had something there was such shame and condemnation in common with Uncle Jimmie. associated with those three simple letters— G A Y. As I reflected on the Pride edition of this He seemed proud of his life. But,S why did magazine, and in light of recent news articles, I everyone else act as if something were wrong? was reminded there are countless people living I wanted to be like him. I wanted his life. I with a dirty little secret. They can’t live in their wanted to live as freely and comfortably as truth because, since the time they have been he seemed to live. I think he picked up on my able to understand language, they were taught yearning. “If you stay thin, you can move to DC that being gay is nothing to be proud of. In fact, and be one of my models,” he said. “it’s an abomination and a demonic possession, and you should seek deliverance from it. It’s the greatest of sins, and will certainly lead you to the pits of hell.” I knew there was something special about me early on. I knew I had an attraction to the same sex. But in my family, that was unacceptable. I heard whispers about my uncle, Jimmie. “Don’t turn out like your uncle. You know he’s that way,” my aunt would say. (As she said “that way” she would hold her hand parallel to the ground and pivot it left and right.) “You don’t want to get that disease,” she added. Uncle Jimmie was flamboyant. He moved away from our small rural town to pursue a better life, and surround himself with people who were not trapped in the Baptist rhetoric that saw homosexuality as this nefarious sin greater than any other. His life fascinated me. As the artistic director of a small modeling troupe, he was surrounded
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He would leave, as he always did, and I would go back to hating myself and feeling as if something was wrong with me. There seemed to be no one else like me. One thought kept me strong. I knew that if I could only hold out until I graduated high school, my problems would be over. I could move away…become a model… surround myself with people like me. I clung to Uncle Jimmie’s offer. In the meantime, my great-grandmother would take me to Weeping Mary Baptist Church each week. Sunday after Sunday I sat in that pew and listened as the pastor condemned
gays and lesbians from his pulpit. I was a precocious child; I read the dictionary for entertainment. I knew he was talking about me—I knew. Even at that young age, I knew. My family reinforced these teachings and it was psychologically damaging to my development and self-esteem. Before I got the chance to move to DC and become that model, Uncle Jimmie succumbed to AIDS. Even in his death, I heard the whispers. Back then, AIDS was the “gay disease”. At his funeral, the casket remained closed—how symbolic. Everyone speculated
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Walsh, and Carlos Vigil. All of these beautiful, gay youth took their lives because someone told them they were not enough. This doesn’t even speak to the countless gays and lesbians who are savagely beaten or murdered for the very same reason—people like Matthew Shepard, and most recently, Brittney Cosby and her girlfriend, Crystal Jackson. Matthew didn’t deserve to be pistol-whipped with the barrel of a .357 Magnum. He didn’t deserve to be hung—barefoot, freezing and barely alive— on a fence, in a pose resembling a crucifixion. Whose sins was he crucified for? Brittney didn’t deserve to die from blunt force trauma, and Crystal didn’t deserve to be shot to death— possibly at the hands of Brittney’s father. Certainly, neither of them deserved to be left behind a dumpster. We. Are. Not. Trash. These are our children.
on how he died. I think “cancer” was the buzz word back then. His life, as amazing as I perceived it to be, was reduced to something no one should be proud of. I remember telling my best friend later in life about my favorite uncle and how he died. “How do you feel knowing he was such a good person, but went to hell because he was gay?” she asked. By this point in my life, I was learning to be proud of who I was. Admittedly, I wasn’t quite there yet, but I was close enough that I was able to formulate an argument in my uncle’s defense—in my own defense. She knew I was gay, and I thought she accepted it. How dare she condemn me! I was one of the lucky ones. I was able to work through my pain, my self-esteem issues, and my shame with my life intact. My heart aches for those who never got to realize their pride— people like Josh Pacheco, Tyler Clementi, Seth
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Why is the notion of being gay so hard for people to accept? They taunt us. They tell us we are possessed by demonic spirits. They cause us to take our lives. They even kill us. Yet some of us miraculously make it over that hurdle and find a semblance of pride in our existence. I’m here to tell you, I will continue to speak out—LOUD and PROUD—as long as gay youth are killing themselves because someone instilled in them they are not enough. I will continue to speak out—LOUD and PROUD—until others realize our lives are worth living. We were molded with the same care and precision as our heterosexual counterparts. We are unique, and we are worthy. God has a special plan for each of us that only we can fulfill. But we can only do that if we choose to live our lives—PROUDLY!
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By Venson Phillip Mathews
A poem of a spiritual nature that came out of online dating site experience. Sitting across from you. Now.
Moments are filled with the stuff of our lives. Our lives are filled with moments.
I wonder how we got here. Moments.
Each moment holds a universe of possibilities. Possibilities for connection, change, companionship, transformation.
Sharing our stories. Intimacy. Looking beyond the fear and pain. Vision. Your words speak to my needs. Brotherhood. How did we get here? Moments. Logging on and looking. Beginnings. A profile, a pic. Finding. You reach out; I reach out. Chatting. We read something we like. Interest. The call is made. Voices. The rendezvous is planned. Commitment. We move into each others space. Dancing. Words, gestures, silence, laughter. Song. Just how did we get here? Moments.
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Let us seize each moment and all they may hold of goodness, grandeur, gladness, hope. May we not take one moment for granted, not one instant. Let us not seek to control what each moment brings, but allow each to unfold within and around us. Let us move into, and out of, each moment with grace, compassion and dignity. Allowing each other the freedom to choose each momentâ€™s dream, each momentâ€™s truth. Again, how did we get here? Better yet, where are we headed? Moments will tell.
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By Jeremy Price-Ballew
OUTSpoken is a local Sunday morning Out & Proud radio program on KYRS community radio, featuring opinions of three differently-minded men on important topics within the Out & Proud community. The broadcast show began in December of last year and has caught the attention of many in the community. The show features people in and around the community, and strives to bring important issues to the forefront in hopes of inspiring change. Discussions have included current and inspiring topics such as; Sergeyâ€”the young Russian boy coming out to his family, gender identity, and working through the letters of the LGBTQQAAI moniker to bring more attention and enlightenment to their listeners about the people they are trying to reach. Sergey
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I got a chance to speak with Jonathan Shuffield, William Lawrence and Greg Oliverâ€”the guys behind the program. Check out the interview and get to know about the minds behind the show and their focus on the community. What brought OUTSpoken together and what is the motivation behind it? William: Jonathan had dreamed of a talk show for over a decade; he liked the idea of bringing different gay men together to just talk about issues. Jonathan: Plus, we are really at a perfect time in history when so much is changing for the LGBT community, and much quicker than ever beforeâ€”we have a front row seat to history unfolding. Drew Schmedding was an important part of our beginnings. He brought a youthful perspective and a hyper-focus on pop culture. He is a very busy person and was with us for 3 months before the mutual decision was made that he was simply too busy and did not have the time to focus, or the energy needed for the show. We were growing faster than anticipated and went from a one hour format to two hours, with the frequency of guests increasing. We all love Drew and continue to wish him all the best. William: He (Jonathan) decided one day just to send an email and propose the show to KYRS. He heard back the very same week and was asked to a meeting.
Greg: He approached each of the co-hosts and asked if they would be interested in joining a show like this. Our motivation is hoping that we may make a difference in others. We have received emails after different shows thanking us for what we talked about, or for sharing a story that the listener felt they could really relate to. If we can at least impact one person, that is all that matters. Where did each of you get your start? Jonathan: Broadcasting is actually new for William and Greg. I have been involved in public speaking and media for about 20 years, but Greg and Will have proven to be naturals. How long have you been on air? Greg: Our very first show was Sunday, December 8, 2013. Back then, we were only a one hour program, but we were lucky enough to be offered a two hour time slot in February. What are the different personalities of the OUTSpoken guys? Greg: We are a crazy group of friends and definitely run the spectrum. Jonathan likes to say that he put the show together based on very specific points of view. Jonathan: Will would be the more conservative one, I am very liberal, and Greg has been content with his life (married, living in the
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suburbs and happy), and has admittedly had no reason to get involved in issues in the LGBT community.
With all the social media outlets out there, what made you decide to go for listenersupported radio—and what do you feel are the pros and cons of radio?
William: We are all goof balls, that’s for sure. We are all just very authentic. I am very sarcastic and thought-provoking; Jonathan is passionate and funny and wears his heart on his sleeve; and Greg brings a lot of humor and dedication to being very honest and transparent about how the show affects him.
Jonathan: We think that listenersupported radio truly allows the community to help shape your show. We are not subject to sponsors we have to bow to. We are allowed the freedom to create a show and offer it to the community and let them tell us how we are doing.
With different personalities and opinions, do you generally find yourselves agreeing or disagreeing on topics? Does it open up the door for broader, more in depth discussion? Jonathan: Our conversations always go well, but we definitely have different opinions. There are times it can get a bit heated on the air, but we all love and respect each other in the end. There are definitely times that we agree, but it’s more fun when we have a passionate discussion. Now, that’s good radio! Greg: That is why we thought this show would work, we can be very goofy and we love to laugh, but every show has a main topic that we take very seriously and we dissect and discuss. We have always made a vow to each other and our listeners that we will be completely honest with our opinions—even if we may come across a bit naïve or ignorant at first, because we want to show our growing process. We pick certain topics, knowing we don’t know a lot about it and knowing we need to grow and learn from them.
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Greg: The pros of radio station like this is: we get amazing support from KYRS, we have a devoted listener base, we have a very real opportunity to be involved within the community, and we get to wear sweatshirts and jeans! Jonathan: Cons can be: it is not always easy to know how many people are engaging and enjoying the show; it takes more effort to make sure we get involved with our audience—I mean, there isn’t a live studio audience or instant gratification of ratings or anything. Was Spokane your first choice and, if so, why? William: Spokane is really an ideal place for this show. It can be a slightly conservative area and we think there is a craving to be heard by the LGBT community. How has the community shaped your show? Jonathan: The feedback we get through Facebook and emails allows us to know what works and
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what doesn’t. Some people will even suggest topics that are important to them, and it can inspire a whole future show. We strive hard to listen to our audience. What would you change in the upcoming years to interact better with the public? Greg: We actually already have some plans in place. In the very near future, we will be taking callins live on the air. We also have a plan in place to start monthly meetups. We have told our audience that once we hit 500 likes on our Facebook page, we will plan monthly live meetings at different establishments around town—where we bring in guest speakers dealing with specific subjects, and invite the community to come be part of the conversation. On one of the shows it was mentioned that conversations happen in the community that don’t become hot topic issues. Why do you think conversations happen in the community that don’t really come to the forefront or become open discussions in the community? Jonathan: I think for the most part, we are still a minority group. If a topic does not affect the majority, it is harder to be heard by everyone. I think that is why a show like ours has some importance. We want to give a platform to issues that are important to us as a community—that isn’t always talked about on CNN or FOX News. What can the community do to help bring these important issues up to the general public and it’s community leaders—so these topics can be discussed and resolved, or at least create understanding?
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Jonathan: We have said it on our show; we have to speak up and, if we are not comfortable doing that on our own, then we must support those (who) are. It is so easy to become complacent, to just be comfortable with life—the status quo—that we simply stay quiet and do nothing. We can write our representatives. We can support local groups (or even radio shows). We can write the President. We can get involved in community groups. We can call local TV and radio and say we want to be represented, and tell them the subjects we think that they are missing. Sure, you can sit back and say, “That won’t help. It’s just me—one person. They won’t hear it or read it. But the truth is “nothing changes if nothing changes.” If you don’t try, there was never a shot to begin with. We have to be willing to do something and support those that are trying. What do each of you think needs to happen in the Out & Proud community for it to really thrive and grow? William: We must come together. We have found on our show, as we begin to explore the different letters making up our moniker (LGBTQQAAI), that we know very little about each other. Our personal letters seem to divide us more than we realize—we can be a very fractured community. Jonathan: Yes, we each have our individual experiences and issues. But in the end, we are all human beings deserving the same treatment and equality—and that is enough to join hands. We really have to start helping each other, and supporting each other, and growing together.
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There have been many new identifiers appear to allow people to identify sexuality or even just support such as a “Q” for “questioning” or “A” for “ally”. Why do you think this is growing? Jonathan: I think more and more people are feeling bolder, as so many strides are being made politically for the community. We are being honest about how we see ourselves and who we are. Do you think it is something that has come from a need for political correctness, or do you think society as a whole is growing and becoming more understanding? Jonathan: I think human beings like to categorize things. It helps us feel comfortable if we can define things including people. I like to think we, as a whole society, are growing. But it’s probably a little of both. People always seem to be uncomfortable with ambiguity. How do you think popular media portrays Pride Month? Jonathan: I think it is changing. But I think mainstream media still focuses so much on the oversexualized aspect. I mean, it is media—and media loves sensationalism. I always think that if they were to focus on Mardi Gras, they would see the same “sensational” things—it’s like straight Pride! I guess we choose to see what we want to see. Do you think that like many other holidays and celebrations, its original meaning has been lost in the festivities?
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William: I think it is very easy for the true meaning of Pride to get lost—and very frequently does. Sometimes, we spend so much time on the celebration— on the creative expressions of our sexuality—that so many cities forget to take time to use Pride week to educate, to inform, and to be culturally diverse. If we only have the Parade and the fun in the park, but have done nothing to remember why we have these things—then isn’t it just another Sunday? Especially as times have changed, more and more young people are coming out and being so brave. Shouldn’t we help them to know their history? After all, if we do not know our history, we can be doomed to repeat it. What does Pride month mean to you—and what is your favorite part of it? How do you like to celebrate? Jonathan: I think, like so many others in the LGBT community, we each have a very personal connection to Pride. I am sure each of us even has a personal story about Pride. It is amazing to celebrate and see so many people able to be open and without fear—to express your love without negative repercussions. It is also an amazing time to remember where we came from—to know our history and educate ourselves so that we can be proactive in our future. Thank you to Jonathan, William and Greg—the people behind OUTSpoken for all their hard work and dedication to helping build a better, stronger community.
Be sure to listen to the show every Sunday Morning: 11am-1pm on KYRS community radio 88.1 or http://kyrs.org/. Join in the conversation!
Follow the show on Facebook https://www. facebook.com/OUTSpokesmen.
Show your support by donating to KYRS.
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by Michelle Cuttino
As their byline reads, â€œLesbians Who Tech is a community of queer women in or around tech (and the people who love them).â€? The organization was founded by Leanne Pittsford in December 2012. Pittsford felt the most visible members of the tech industry were male and she wanted to highlight the queer women in tech who may not receive the recognition they deserve.
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In February 2014, Lesbians Who Tech held a groundbreaking technology summit in San Francisco, California. With over 800 women in attendance, the summit focused on increasing visibility and tech participation amongst women and the LGBTQ community.
now. We conduct monthly happy hours, as well as summits where we’re bringing together tech talks around technology amongst queer women. You’re the Founder and CEO of Start Somewhere. First, how did you come up with that name? Lots of brainstorming. I find that a lot of people, especially in the design and technology space, just don’t know where to start. It’s about picking one place and getting going. It’s sort of a mantra for my life too. You don’t have to have everything figured out. You just need to start. One of my colleagues, J’son M. Lee, recently interviewed a General Motors executive and the San Francisco Lesbians Who Tech summit was mentioned. What was it like working with them in Silicon Valley? With the success of their West Coast event, Lesbians Who Tech will be looking to increase their prominence on the East Coast as well. They will be holding their second summit in New York City on June 19-22, 2014. I spoke with Leanne Pittsford about Lesbians Who Tech and her other roles in both the technology and LGBTQ communities. Tell us a little about yourself. I’m the founder of Start Somewhere, which is a design and development company that does design support, database/CRM support, tech support and communications support for organizations. We do a lot of design, front and back-end development and big branding projects. I also started Lesbians Who Tech, which is a community of queer women in and around tech, and the people who love them. We are a community that has over 4,000 queer women in about fourteen different cities right
General Motors were one of our sponsors and they were great. I think it’s hard to find professional lesbians. If you’re a company and you want to sponsor something lesbian themed, you know of Pride or Dinah Shore. Beyond that, there are not a lot of places to find queer women. I think it was a really great partnership—obviously because of what our community is, and also since they were really wonderful to work with. Do you think other large corporations will begin to embrace the LGBT community? Definitely, I think a lot of companies and groups are already doing that. In Silicon Valley, there is a lot of support for the queer community. Much of what Lesbians Who Tech is focused on is partly the gender base. Women in tech in Silicon Valley make forty-nine cents to the man’s dollar. So for us, it’s not only about being gay and queer. Lesbians are women first and there’s a lot of gender inequality in the tech community.
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As the founder of Lesbians Who Tech, can you explain to us exactly what it is and why you felt the need to create it? I’ve been a part of the LGBTQ world for a long time. I worked for Equality California, and one of the things I saw time and time again is women don’t attend events. It’s a struggle to figure out how to provide them value. When I started my own business, Start Somewhere, I ventured into the world of entrepreneurship in tech. I found it was an even bigger issue getting women to come to events and figuring out how to provide that value. I knew there were a lot of gay women in the tech world. I just didn’t know exactly how many or the types of things they wanted. I also knew women need women’s leadership and they need to have people who are focused on providing them value in the way that they need. Lesbians Who Tech was basically an experiment to see how many queer women there really were in tech. We figured there were thousands of women all over the country, if not all over the world, that needed specific things and wanted to connect. That is how we ended up with the summit and the experiment is still continuing right now. We’re still trying to figure out how we can continue to provide value. What is Lesbians Who Tech’s mission? Right now we have four main goals: 1. To connect with one another. It’s never easy to know who the women are in your company or your community, so what we do is help to connect people.
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2. We want to make queer women in tech more visible to the outside world. We always said, what if there was a lesbian version of Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates? There are many lesbian celebrities like Ellen, or political people like Senator Tammy Baldwin, but there’s not a lot of corporate and specifically tech role models for people. However, they do exist. We just need to figure out how to make them more famous. 3. We want to be part of the larger conversation on women in technology from a numbers perspective, and also more importantly, from a leadership perspective. How can we get more women on board? How can we create earnings with the pay gap right now? It’s ridiculous that forty-nine cents to the man’s dollar is that much lower in tech. We want to make sure our experience is part of the conversation because queer women have a different experience than straight women in all that’s happening. 4. Technology is not super-filled with profit, but we want to make sure we connect queer women in tech to communities who are doing great things for us. So if it’s the LGBTQ world or women’s diversity, we want to make sure those two worlds are connected. What has been the overall reaction to Lesbians Who Tech? It’s been really great. The summit represents the ungrouped people. These are the people who aren’t going to LGBTQ clubs and fundraisers. We had 800 queer women all in one space in San Francisco. They’ve never been around that many women, nor that many
queer women, let alone queer women in tech. Because it was gay and tech, it was part of their professional identity. They felt comfortable showing up and making an effort to attend. Queer women want to be inspired. To be able to see twenty tech talks is incredibly inspiring to queer women who do something similar in their professions. It was moving. A lot of people admitted it was one of the best summits they’ve ever been to. Not because we had a lot of money, or because we had lots of bells and whistles. We just brought really great people together with incredible stories that people haven’t ever seen or heard. It’s said within Lesbians Who Techs’ info, “you are women first.” If that’s true, why did you separate your organization from others with the “lesbian” label? People relate to different identities. It’s all about urgency. Is this connected enough to my identity that I care? I tell people, when you put two queer women together as a couple and we make forty-nine cents to the dollar, that’s really low. Straight women are sometimes partnered with a man who makes more than them. If you talk about economic power, lesbian couples are some of the poorest people in the country, right above transgender people. Our experience is different and we’re thinking about different things. We need people to be able to connect the dots. I think we totally want to partner and connect with the larger women’s world. However, there are some differences in our community that I believe are important enough to have a separate community. There are other tech LGBT groups, but there are very few women leaders in those groups and very few women who come to their events. We are
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definitely going to partner with them, because I think it’s important to have women’s leadership. In all of these groups like the saying goes, “A rising tide lifts all the boats.” How can someone join the organization or get involved? If you go to lesbianswhotech.org, you can sign up and start getting our emails. We’re also doing a summit in New York from June 19-22. Basically, I split my time between
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San Francisco and New York. For a lack of better words, New Yorkers feel like the world revolves around them. They felt we should do an east coast summit. We felt that, yeah people say they want it, but will they actually put the credit card down? We decided to do a crowd-funding campaign and sell tickets. Our thought was, we hear you guys want this. If we can raise $20,000 in five days, we’ll do the summit. Needless to say, we raised the money and we’re doing the NY summit on June 19-22, 2014. We’re working on speakers
and all the particulars now. What can we look forward to for the New York summit? We’re going to have a Hackathon at Etsy. They’re already coming in as a sponsor. On Thursday, we’re probably going to do a tech crawl where we can highlight some of the cool things happening in technology in New York. We’ll most likely have some brunches and an introduction to programming workshop
on Thursday as well. Depending on what people want, we may do a couple of courses on Thursday. Friday will be more of a tech talk day. We will have a big networking room across from the theater so people can go back and forth and connect, which is really cool. We’ll have a big dance Friday with tech talk themed lunches. There will also be some after parties and other fun stuff. We’re looking to have activities like a picnic in the park over the weekend. I think it’s important for people to have fun. We had a bike ride in San
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Francisco where people got to connect. When it’s an activity, there’s a little less pressure. We have a lot of introverts, so we try to have a mix of extravert and introvert activities. You sponsor numerous Lesbians Who Tech events during the year in different states. What happens at these cocktail hours/ social events?
we’re doing a lot of work to highlight that to the rest of the world. Anyone is open to come to the summit. If you want to see what Lesbians Who Tech is all about, come to the June New York summit because that is the best way to do it. Please provide your contact info for those looking to get in touch with you or follow Lesbians Who Tech.
Sometimes we have a speaker. Sometimes it’s just networking. We want to make sure to keep the happy hours free and accessible, which is why we are putting the summits on—to create a more high-valued experience for people. Really the events are about connecting and hearing one or two people speak. Other than that, the events are just to connect everyone.
You can reach me via Twitter @lepitts or see our website for all information. The website again is lesbianswhotech.org.
Where do you hope to see Lesbians Who Tech in the next five years?
Lesbians Who Tech proved that there is not only a need for organizations such as theirs, but people will also get involved and support their efforts. The amazing turnout for their San Francisco summit will hopefully serve as a forecast for an even greater attendance at the New York summit.
I try not to go too far in the future. If you’d have asked me a year ago if I would be planning this summit, I never would have said Lesbians Who Tech is going to be this two summit experience on both coasts. Five year plans to me are sort of a waste of time. But to me, success looks like five queer versions of Sheryl Sandberg or Mark Zuckerberg. I want to make Lesbians Who Tech and queer women in tech more on the tip of everyone’s tongue for speakers and opportunities—then for investment opportunities as well. I think being a part of the increasing gender equality, in tech specifically, is what we want to be a huge part of. I’d love to see that forty-nine cents to the man’s dollar jump up a big chunk in five years. I’d be really happy about that. What do you want the world to know about Lesbians Who Tech? We’re a community of incredible, amazing queer women that have a lot of potential and
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You can also download the Lesbians Who Tech press packet at: http://lesbianswhotech.org/wpcontent/uploads/2014/04/Lesbians-Who-TechPress-NY-Packet-PrePress.pdf
Their profile says it best, “Lesbians Who Tech provides a place for queer women and their allies in technology to connect and learn from each other’s experiences.” I wish them continued success and hope that queer women in tech begin to get the recognition and equal rights they deserve.
Michelle Cuttino was born and raised in Bronx, New York, and spent her formative years between New York and her parents’ hometown of Georgetown, South Carolina. She is newly engaged and still resides in the Bronx with her son. Cuttino is an esteemed book reviewer and contributing writer for African Americans on the Move Book Club (AAMBC) and Black Literature Magazine. She is also a columnist for Proud Times Magazine, and once optioned one of her screenplays with Flavor Unit Films, Inc. She is the President and CEO of her own publishing company, Big Body Publishing. Cuttino currently heads Big Body Broadcasting, her BlogTalkRadio network, which showcases her talk radio shows The Q-Spot with Big Body and The My Big Girls Panties Show. In addition, she is the Executive Producer of two new shows on the network—A Different Kind Of Love and Loveology.
erotica anthology under Zane’s Strebor/Simon & Schuster imprint, and is set to release in 2015. Her contact info: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.BigBodyPublishing.com Facebook: www.facebook.com/MichelleCuttino Twitter: @MichelleCuttino Michelle Cuttino
Michelle Cuttino is the author of Love & Happiness and the Me & Mrs. Jones series. Another of her works will be included in an
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General Motors: On a Mission by Jâ€™son M. Lee
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General Motors (GM) was founded on September 16, 1908, in Flint, Michigan, as a holding company for Buick, which was controlled by William “Billy” Durant. Durant was a leading manufacturer of horse-drawn vehicles; however, he had a vision of building the car industry. Now, some 100 years later, General Motors is a multinational corporation that designs and sells the world’s best vehicles. With brands like Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, and Cadillac, General Motors offers a comprehensive range of vehicles. At the heart of their business is a customer-driven culture—a culture where the LGBT consumer plays an integral role. Witeck Communications, Inc., a Washington, D.C.-based communications firm, estimates the buying power of the LGBT community at over $800 billion annually. With billions of dollars at stake, it behooves companies to make sure their marketing approach includes this valuable demographic. While many have been slow to target LGBT consumer, General Motors is leveraging itself again as a pioneer in the automobile industry. GM recognizes the value of the LGBT dollar. To this end, they have committed to raising awareness of their products among LGBT consumers. Joe LaMaruglia, GM’s LGBT Communications Manager, is spearheading this effort. I had the pleasure of chatting with Joe about GM’s mission.
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Joe LaMaruglia General Motor’s LGBT Communications Manager Tell us a little about your role as General Motor’s LGBT Communications Manager. I’m part of the Communications Public Relations team at GM, and I have dual roles. My primary job is Broadcast Communications here in New York, but I’m also a member of the Diversity Communications team. So I handle all of the LGBT outreach from a PR prospective. I’ve been doing that for about four years. General Motors is known for designing, building, and selling the world’s best vehicles. Why is GM’s presence in the LGBT community so important? General Motors is one of the most wellknown automotive companies on the planet, but it’s never top of mind when members of the LGBT community consider products. That shows when you look at the data; we are way under index within this community. They are not considering our four brands. So GM wanted to have a concerted effort to reach out to the community, because we value them as consumers. We value them
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© General Motors
as employees, and we want our consumers to reflect our employee base and vice versa. We all know why the LGBT community is an attractive demographic—very brand loyal, early adopters, etc.—but we weren’t even on their consideration list. My job is to raise the brand awareness of not just the fact that we have amazing products, but we as a company do a lot of great things for the LGBT community. So how do you go about bridging the gap between General Motors and the LGBT community? It’s a very targeted grassroots effort. We don’t have millions of dollars to go out and do massive events and massive advertising campaigns. What we are trying to do is influence the influencers. So, in various cities around the country, we try to identify the people who are influential in the community. It doesn’t
necessarily mean the media people. A lot of times it’s not the media—it’s people that are active on social media, or [who have] influential jobs, etc. We invite them to events, or we get them into our products—or both—and we try to change their minds, and raise awareness one person at a time. We do very specific events. We are getting ready to do our New York City event which is around the New York Auto Show. We’ll invite forty very influential LGBT members of the community from New York. We’ll have a cocktail party, but we will also give an overview of what GM is doing to reach out to the community. And then we will have three co-hosts, and those co-hosts are gay automotive writers—writers that write for automobile magazines like Road & Track, Car and Driver, Motor Trend, etc. They will give [the guests] an overview of the auto show— what’s hot, what came out, and then we take them on a private VIP tour of the show hosted by these three experts. We start out with our products, but they go around the entire show. Basically this experience is brought to you by General Motors because, 1) it’s very special, and 2) we are confident that our products can stand up against the best of the world. A lot of people are intimidated by going to an auto show. Wouldn’t it be great to have an expert—a gay expert—take you around the show to show you what’s hot? So that’s an example of a very diverse approach to the community. I’d like to say the LGBT community is the most diverse diversity group. A lot of brands will say they advertised, but we’re trying to get out there on the ground in major cities and be there and interact with them in different ways, but also in ways that align with the vehicle brands. For example, we are a title sponsor for the Gay Polo Tournament. GMC is the brand that we’re choosing to align with that because GMC is a higher-end brand, but it’s also their trucks and SUVs that pull horses—polo is all about horses. We’re trying to be really smart and targeted, knowing that it’s going to take time.
In doing that, do you in turn have to in some way coordinate with, work with, or support anti-gay organizations in your efforts? I don’t work directly with any anti-gay organizations personally. As a company, our job is to sell as many cars to as many people as we possibly can. Yes, there are people who are upset with some of the outreach we’ve done— the Olympic ads* in particular—but as a public company, we have the right and obligation to sell and market to as many people as possible, and that includes the LGBT community. Again, we want our customer base to reflect our employee base, and vice versa. *General Motors’ Chevrolet made a big statement by showing gay couples for the first time in its TV commercials during the Sochi Olympics Opening Ceremonies. Speaking of the Olympic ads, there was some backlash. If that became stronger, would General Motor’s stance be the same? I don’t think it’s going to get any stronger than it has been. We’re standing firm. Our Chief Marketing Officer for Chevrolet is one of the guys behind the new advertising, and he has stood firm and explained to dealers that this is the right thing to do. Our CEO is behind it; Upper Management is behind it. We’re not going to waver, but we have to be intelligent about our outreach, and we’re doing a very good job of being smart about it. Our approach is intelligently influencing the influencers. In reaching out to these LGBT influencers, does that mean you’re making contributions to their organizations? We do contribute to some organizations in Michigan. I’m working on a PFLAG event right now. That’s contributing to their coffers, if you will, but we also believe in their efforts. We
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are a business. We want to get something out of it; we want to raise the awareness, and we want to get people into our product. When I do an event, there has to be a car there. We just did an event in San Francisco. We were lead sponsors with Google on Lesbians Who Tech*—795 lesbians in the technology industry in Silicon Valley. Chevrolet was there. We featured the Chevrolet Volt and the Chevrolet Spark because we know that particular demographic were early adopters and very interested in green technology. We don’t just write a check. We are there. We want them to meet our employees. *The Lesbians Who Tech Summit increases visibility and tech participation in two historically underrepresented communities—the women’s and queer communities. The summit brings together hundreds of queer women in tech (and the people who love them). For more information, visit http://lesbianswhotech.org/ summit/. Do you feel that you’re on the cutting edge as compared to your competitors? If you look at our outreach, we are way ahead of our competitors. People know us as a big mid-western company and automatically make assumptions. No other car company has a person like me. We are playing catch-up because, for whatever reason, our products weren’t considered within the community. Let’s switch gears a bit and talk about your employees. What is GM PLUS (People Like US)? GM PLUS is the internal outreach group for GM. We have a lot of employee resource groups—African American, Asian American, Native American—and GM PLUS is the LGBT resource group. It’s a support group, and I believe one of the most active employee
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resource groups at GM. They do training for management teams around the company. They are the ones behind making sure management stays on track with equal benefits. They are a very influential group within the company and very active. They’ll go in and do education sessions about how to treat LGBT employees and break barriers on assumptions, etc. It’s more than a place for people to talk, meet, and have drinks. They do great work. Every company that I’ve worked for has a policy of non-discrimination, but there seems to be something unique about General Motor’s policy as it relates to their LGBT employees. What does GM do to go above and beyond the normal legal requirements? We have non-discrimination as a lot of companies do. Keep in mind that in a state like Michigan (where we are headquartered),
you can be fired for being gay. Someone can look at you and say, “I think you’re gay, and you’re out of here,” and there’s no legal recourse. GM does not stand for that. GM has incredible policies that protect all of our employees. One of the areas where we’ve gone above and beyond, and I’m not aware of any other companies doing this, but last year when the federal government legalized samesex marriage, we offered same-sex spousal benefits in the states where marriage was legal. We took one step above that and said, okay, we will recognize same-sex marriages and offer same-sex spousal benefits to anyone who is married in a state where it is legal, no matter where you reside. GM said if you are in a same-sex domestic partnership and you want to go to New York and get married and come back to Michigan we will recognize that as a marriage. There is no tolerance for anything other than complete equality to the legal extent of the law. Part of my job is to tell the
world what an amazing place it is to work, because that’s important to people when they are making a purchase decision—and it’s a very large purchase decision. The average price of a car is $32,000. So when they are spending upwards of $32,000 on something, you want it to be safe, reliable, and good-looking, but you also want to make sure you’re doing it with a company that aligns with your core values. Does General Motors have a presence at Pride Events? Yes and no. GM PLUS handles the Detroit Motor City Pride. I do one Pride event, and that’s in Atlanta. We’ve been doing Atlanta Pride for a couple of years and that’s primarily because I used to live there and have really good relationships with the organizers, but it’s also a fantastic event. We’re always looking for new events, but we have a finite amount of money, and it’s not the best place to put our money in terms of the way we want to influence people. Atlanta Pride has been incredibly receptive. Other Pride events we’ve tried are not in line with our goals, so we take our limited funds and do more creative approaches with Lesbians Who Tech, the Gay Polo Tournament, and our events around the New York, Los Angeles and Chicago auto shows. I saw GM’s video for the Trevor Project. How did that come about, and why was it so important to do that video?
© General Motors
That video happened in under two weeks. I was sitting on my sofa watching Glee one night, and Google did a commercial where they featured their video for the Trevor project. My phone lit up with friends and colleagues saying, “Wow, that was amazing!” And it really was amazing on national television. I said, “All right, we’re
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doing it!” Under two weeks, I got the group together, got to filming, I produced it, and we made it happen. We’re big supporters of the Trevor Project. Obviously it’s posted externally, but it was really more for us to celebrate Gay Pride month at GM and let all the employees know that this is really important to us. The video turned out to be a lot more emotional than I thought it would be. It was one of the most emotional days ever, but it’s one of the things I’m most proud of. Afterwards the videographers came up—all straight guys from Michigan—giving us hugs and saying that was amazing. GM was recognized by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation as one of the best places to work for LGBT equality. Why do you think you got this award and what does it mean to have this recognition? We want to attract the best talent. If someone is graduating from college or grad school, and they’re a member of the LGBT community and they have choices to make, we want them to know that GM is a great place to work and we’ve been recognized for that. We want to make sure it’s a safe and equitable place to work.
me, and that’s an amazing feeling. I’m a total car geek. I’m a car guy who happens to be gay. I want to sell more cars to this community. We’re an incredibly gay friendly company. I want people to consider Cadillac, Buick, GMC, and Chevrolet when they’re out buying a car. We’d be honored for members of the community to consider us. We’re moving the needle slowly. It’s a slow process, and we’re breaking barriers slowly every year. Joe, thank you for taking the time out of your day to speak with Proud Times. I think the work you are doing—both internally and externally— is setting the stage for General Motors to be a trailblazer once again, and I am looking forward to the day when other brands follow suit. The LGBT community is a powerful community, and kudos to GM for recognizing that! For more information about General Motors and their products, please visit their website at www.gm.com.
Does it feel different walking through the halls knowing you can be yourself and it doesn’t matter? It feels great! It’s a conservative industry, but GM knows it’s the right thing to do. They hired me and are allowing me to design the outreach. They trust
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© General Motors
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Miss the beginning? Catch up with the story in previous issues of Proud Times! Sometimes in safety, there is complacency. Sometimes there is just… safety. But sometimes, safety from the fear of outside persecution gives people the confidence to start sniping at each other from within. Hence, Patrice and her complaining, Rolie and his jealous rages, and Candle with hir increasingly annoying aloofness. They’d all moved in and, feeling protected, set up a food court of debilitating emotions. Like small starlets who wouldn’t accept that their TV series had been canceled, they wouldn’t get out when it was time for someone else to take over their trailers.
and Lilly’s house, all this didn’t matter. “I could go back to Wallace, Idaho and have my father beat the crap out of me,” Patrice suggested. Rolie huffed and puffed like the Big Bad Wolf chasing the fourth pig. “You can say Skuff didn’t do it, but if he’d kept his mouth shut...” “And let you run over him?” Miki scowled. “You liked him, and everybody knows that, but you drove him away. You can all three get an apartment. Get some jobs. We’ll help you with rent. We just need the place to ourselves for a while.”
“How long did you all intend on staying?” Miki asked, feeling a touch of guilt, but not enough to keep her quiet any longer. No one had an answer. It was just where they lived. Being relatively genderless, Candle had taken androgyny past “Born This Way,” past David Bowie, and past a level that most people, LGBTQQIAA or not, were able to comprehend. Old Navy? The Gap? No one had a center aisle. How can you bend a gender if there’s no gender to bend? “You could go back to the tribe,” Lilly submitted. “No opportunity. No candle burning there. And no one will have me in this community, so my wick is out.” Hailing from the small population of the Spokane Tribe, Candle was proud of hir heritage, but didn’t see much future for hirself on the reservation. But here, Candle had no “letter” in an LGBT spectrum that rejected labels yet categorized everyone at the same time. In Miki
“Trouble in Hawaiian lesbian paradise,” Patrice mumbled from the chair that she seemed to have melted into lately. “We just want to make sure it stays that paradise.” After a 30 year delay, marriage seemed… well… a letdown. What did it mean? Having to wait for someone else’s permission and approval watered it down; then there was the realization that publicly saying for better or worse didn’t make anything better or worse. Perhaps things would change as they would start to avail themselves of the thousands of rights that legal marriage guaranteed. For now,
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they just needed a vacation from Rolie, Candle, and Patrice. In their usual oversized dresses, Miki and Lilly came across like goddesses, bored with their devotees. “I don’t fit in,” Candle chanted three times. “I don’t know where to work. How to work. Who’s going to hire me unless I trade in my identity for a piece of beef jerky?” No one ever understood why Candle said the things ze did. “There’s a flavor for everyone in beef jerky. I’m the flavor nobody likes but is forever preserved with too much salt.” “That’s deep,” Rolie said.
so serious beau. “Let’s just do it,” he told her. “If we’re gonna be friends, let’s be friends.” No one was sure how anyone would react. Skuff, his new boyfriend, his old wife, her new beau… the possibilities for farce were endless. Jasper didn’t need “friends.” He was happy in a cocoon with Skuff where they could hold hands, kiss and say I love you all day long. But Skuff was experimenting. A gay guy with gay friends, a gay guy with straight friends, a black gay guy with… label this, label that, trying various ways to accept himself. Perhaps he didn’t need a label at all, but who knows that until he peels his labels off and sees, finally, just a human being with a hard to read expiration date.
“Rolie, you used to be nice, and fun, and… all that when you got here,” Patrice observed. “Then you got all busted up over Skuff, for some reason. It’s ruined you. You’re the only one of us who had any hope and you tossed it away.” Miki realized if she was ever going to get them out, she’d probably have to do it grain by grain, moving sand off the beach with a spoon. Let’s get started.
There is a large number of white people who have never, or rarely, been the only white person in a group, whether that group is 2 or 20 or 200. Jasper Hardy was one of those, other than being alone with Skuff, which was a whole different ballgame because it usually ended in a slick extra-innings amusement. Skuff, mainly because of Jasp, was trying to be less dependent socially on Miki and Lilly until they put the dogs out of the pound. He cast his lot with Rhonda, still his wife, and Sean, her not
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The quartet met downtown at Twigs Bistro and Martini Bar. Not the cheapest place in town, not the most expensive, and our quartet could afford it comfortably enough. The odd elephant in the room was a bluecollar/white-collar divide. Plus, next to the
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sophisticated looks of Rhonda and Sean, Skuff and Jasp felt not so pretty, not so refined, and not so well dressed. It was as if they walked through a door and their world shattered from the impact, reflecting back to them from the ground in shards of a disco ball fallen from the ceiling.
Skuff and Jasp rode home through the night and the old snow, heat blasting their faces, happy to be alone in an automotive bubble. They both worried silently to themselves what would happen on their next trip to a mirror. “Sean kept looking at you and Rhonda trying to figure it out,” Jasp said as he drove. “I did the same,” Skuff said. “For years. Looking at her and me trying to figure it out. So, he figured it out.” “He’s awesome looking.” “Yeah. But, he ain’t you, Jasp,” Skuff said. Jasper didn’t realize until then how much of his life was spent talking to people about automobiles, fixing cars, polishing cars, polishing this door or that knob. Twigs scared him, it was an alien world landed in Spokane. It wasn’t the Spokane he knew. Sean scared him too. Too easy for Skuff to get to him through the almost-ex-wife, and Sean knew already no one could take their eyes off him… SHUT UP JASP! “I just don’t know how to deal with people anymore,” he said before he could stop himself. “I don’t know if I could do that again.”
Sean had never had dinner with a gay couple, Jasp had never dined with a black couple, and Skuff hadn’t yet seen his wife with a guy who took gorgeous to previously unreachable heights. There was plenty of discomfort to go around, but Rhonda seemed happy, and for Skuff, who felt he owed her big, that was enough. Skuff realized that even if he was as straight as straight could be, they’d grown apart in other ways. It made him feel better about leaving her for another man.
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Skuff felt the claw of a hammer crashing in between his eyes. Not literally, of course, but because Jasp was one by one divesting him of any chance for friends. “Stop being so scared,” Skuff advised, now scared himself. “Everyone isn’t going to sock you in the jaw.” “You just did.” Some nights end with “I love you,” and some end with nothing at all.
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Any mention of “drag queen” and “bars” in the same setting usually conjures up images of fun, fun, fun! This is precisely what the Imperial Sovereign Court of Spokane (ISCS) personifies. Lip-synching to their favorite musical icons, many ISCS members are not only well known in the drag community, but have a following in the larger community.
and other fundraising events, ICSC promotes unity and raises funds for a whole host or worthy charitable causes” is what you can read on the ISCS Spokane website.
The Imperial Court system has existed in Spokane for longer than many of us can remember—over 40 years! The ISCS is the oldest organization of its kind in the Spokane area. The ISCS has devoted energy to passionately advocating for issues and concerns facing the Out and Proud communities. In their selfless pursuit to support a range of causes, they perform up to 5 days a week to raise money for their TCA Ease Disaster Fund (emergencies), ISCS Educational Gift Fund (scholarships), and Children with Aids Fund. By collaborating and pooling resources, many of these fundraisers also assist other non-profit organizations provide much-needed services and awareness.
James, and Empress #39 Nova Kaine at Irv’s. Sitting in Queens Corner, with over 50 years of combined drag experience, were the three most impressive, poised, charismatic and knowledgeable people I have been blessed to meet. Their thoughtfulness for others was immeasurable.
“The Imperial Sovereign Court of Spokane is a registered non-profit business entity with a articles of incorporation, by-laws, and a board of directors. For the last 40 years, ICSC has provided support for the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning community of Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho. By hosting a variety of drag shows, raffles, auctions, outings, camping trips
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In March, I met with Her Most Imperial Sovereign Majesty, Absolute Empress #42 Polly Ester Ford Kennady-Smith, Empress #41 Savannah SoReal Kennady-Smith St.
The current Absolute Empress (reigning without an Emperor) Polly Ester is a very quiet natural beauty; Nova is very classy, almost timeless, and well spoken; and Savannah is romantic and dramatically delicate. No matter how different they are in personality, they come together with one common goal: to be of service, always giving back to the community. Regardless of how they came to be here, they
want to be involved and known in the Out and Proud community. While they all spoke of a separation between, the gay, lesbian, bi, and trans communities, they would all prefer there would be one community. Another common desire is to help youth be themselves. The interview began with the usual backstoriesâ€”the general whos, whats, whens, and whys. Polly fell into drag. Working as a DJ, he thought he would give it a try. Well, it turned out he loved it! And it loved him (after some practice of painting his face)! Nova entered a contest called â€˜Dude Looks Like A Ladyâ€™, and
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apparently he nailed it! Miss Savannah started when he noticed that it was just a little easier to get into bars when you’re under age and your face is painted. Most people associate the night life and bars with the Out and Proud community. These empresses want all functions to be supported by the entire community. “Support is what we
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all need within our community.” Nova Kaine continued, “even within our LGBT community at times, we are separated within ourselves.” These queens do what they can for the community, and want everyone to share in this common goal. Polly’s schedule is incredibly insane—sharing her time with all of the Courts in other cities, fundraising, supporting Spokane’s Out and Proud community, holding a day job, and working at Irv’s. Polly proudly stated, “Sometimes there are three or more functions in one day.” This is a prime example of the level of dedication, determination, and accountability they show to their community. To them, being part of the Court is their first job—their first responsibility. Everything else comes second. If they have a job, it must provide flexibility to accommodate their first commitment—which is, and will always be, the Court. Even when they try to stop performing—stop being part of the Court—they are always drawn back their need to help the youth—the youth that are confused and need guidance. They continue to do what they do for the next generation.
Visibility is what they want. Although, people only notice or see the more obvious: the drag queens, the butch lesbians, and the queers. As Savannah pointed out, “They are the ones who receive any publicity, and usually it’s not good publicity.” The ISCS really wants to be as visible as possible in all communities, and to be recognized for what they do and how they can help. “Perception is everything,” said Nova Kaine. Then she proceeded to tell a story of this one time, when she was on her way to an Eastern Washington University drag show. She was dressed in an all white gown and gloves, and accompanied by two men dressed in men’s clothes. En route, their car got a flat tire and, while the two other men stood and watched Nova change the flat, a police car pulled up. Incredulous, the officer said, “It’s a shame these boys are just standing here, not helping you. They shouldn’t just be watching a woman change a tire.” Nova popped up and said, “I know!” How things are perceived are not facts. Sometimes you need to look into the box to see what is true, and not stare at it from afar. Yes, this is entertainment. But, it is much more than playing dress up. It should be known that the ISCS of events are open to all communities. You can find these listed on the Proud Times Calendar of Events at http://proudtimes.com/ events/. May 2014 | www.proudtimes.com | Page 67
RESOURCES Out & Proud Non-profit Organizations
Inland Northwest Business Alliance (INBA) 9 S. Washington, Ste. 618 Spokane WA 99201 509/455-3699
Imperial Sovereign Court of Spokane (ISCS) P.O. Box 65 Spokane WA 99210-0065
Inland Northwest Lgbt Center 9414-A E. 1ST Ave. Spokane Valley WA 99206 (509) 326-6847
Odyssey Youth Center 1121 S. Perry St. Spokane WA 99202 509/325-3637
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OutSpokane P.O. Box 883 Spokane WA 99201-0883 509/720-7609
Blue Mountain Heart to Heart 1520 Kelly Place, Suite 120 Walla Walla, WA 99362 509-529-4744
Pride Foundation Farand Gunnels Regional Development Organizer For Eastern Washington P.O. Box 2194 Spokane WA 99210 509/481-0402
Spokane PFLAG Spokane PFLAG P.O. Box 10292 Spokane WA 99209 509/593-0191
College Groups Central Washington University Diversity Education Center Student Union And Recreation Center, Room 250 400 East University Way Ellensburg WA 98926-7455 509/963-2127
North Idaho Aids Coalition 2201 N Government Way Coeur d’Alene, ID Phone # (208) 665-1448 Toll Free#: (866)609-1774
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Eastern Washington University Pride Center 105 Showalter Hall Cheney WA 99004 509/359-7870
North Idaho College Gay/ Straight Alliance
Spokane Community College ST:GLOBAL QSA Betsy Lawrence – Advisor 509/533-8103
Gonzaga University GLBT Resource Center Unity Multicultural Education Center
Spokane Falls Community College – The Alliance
730 E. Boone – 2Nd Floor Spokane WA 99202 509/313-5847
Barbara Williamson – Advisor 509/533-4507
Gonzaga University School Of Law – Outlaws
University Of Idaho GayStraight Alliance ASUI Office – Idaho Commons, Room 302 Moscow ID 83844
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University Of Idaho LGBTQA Office PO Box 441064 Moscow ID 83844 208/885-6583
Washington State University Womenâ€™s Resource Center Wilson Hall, Room 8 PO Box 644005 Pullman WA 99164-4005 509/335-6849
Places of Worship Bethany Presbyterian Church 2607 S. Ray St Spokane WA 99223 509/534-0066
St. Clare Ecumenical Catholic Community Spokane WA 99224
Washington State University GLBTA PO Box 647204 CUB 401 Pullman, WA 99164-7204 509/335-8841
Unitarian Universalist Church of Spokane 4340 W. Fort Wright Drive Spokane WA 99224 509/325-6383
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411 S. Washington Ave. Spokane WA 99204 509/624-1366
Christine Wilson, LMHC
Veradale United Church of Christ 611 North Progress Road Spokane Valley,WA 99037 509/926-7173
TransgenderFriendly Resources Social And Support Group Spokane Trans* People 509/489-1914
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417 N. Maple St. Colville WA 99114 509/690-0715
Juliann Haffey, LMHC, MA 325 S. University Ave. Spokane WA 99206 509-534-9380
Kate Robbins 509/768-8543
Doctors/HRT Prescribers Dr. Cathcart (Endocrinology) Northside Internal Medicine 6120 N. Mayfair St., #101 Spokane WA 99208 509/489-7483
Dr. Will Corell (General Practitioner) Integrative Medicine Associates 3424 S. Grand Blvd. Spokane WA 99203 509/838-5800 800/491-0017
Family Medicine Spokane Dr. Lilly J Wittich MD Dr. Rachel Wright D.O. (General Practitioner) 104 W. 5th Ave., Suite 200W Spokane WA 99204 509/624-2313 website (temporarily unavailable)
Jeffry Hartman MD (Endocrinology) 104 W. 5th Ave., #140W Spokane WA 99204 509/747-2147
Urologist Robert J. Golden MD 12615 E. Mission Ave., #303 Spokane Valley WA 99216-1047 509/921-0099
GP/Gyno Care Dr. William Roth (pronounced “Rooth”) Roth Medical Center 220 E. Rowan Ave., #200 Spokane WA 99207 509/483-4403
South Hill Family Medical Wendy Smith ARNP, MN 3010 S. Southeast Blvd., Ste. A Spokane WA 99223 509/533-1000
HAIR REMOVAL Dianne at Mirage Spa and Salon (Electrologist) 9421 N. Division St. Spokane WA 99218 509/325-5254
May 2014 | www.proudtimes.com | Page 73
Elain Cain (Electrologist) 18123 E. Appleway Ave. Green Acres WA 99016
Inland Empire Dermatology
Dr. Antonio Mangubat (Breast Augmentation and Chest Reconstruction)
312 N. Mullan Rd. Spokane Valley WA 99206 509/921-7884
16400 Southcenter Parkway, #101 Tukwila WA 98188 206/575-0300
Louisville Laser 6011 N. Division St. Spokane WA 99208 509/482-0655
Voice Therapy Lynette Norton 4407 N. Division St. Spokane WA 99207 509/279-2555
Dr. Tuan Nguyen (Breast augmentation, Chest reconstruction, and MtF SRS) Lake Oswego Plastic Surgery 15820 Quarry Rd Lake Oswego OR 97035 503/635-1955
Legal Assistance Transgender Law Center 415/865-0176
Hormones / Pharmacy Strochecker’s Pharmacy Tyler Treharne, Pharm. D. 2855-A SW Patton Rd. Portland OR 97201 503/222-4822
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Driver’s license gender marker change
District Court name change petition and instructions
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