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n PFLAG spreads cheer with holiday dinner, Page 6 n There’s more to Niagara than amusements, Page 3

February, 2009

Volume 1, Issue 4

Allow Me to Introduce… The Man Behind the Dance Music By Kathy Czarnecki The Community Voice

You may not know the man I am about to introduce, but if you have been to the Zone Dance Club any time over the past 13 years, you at least know his music! Tom Chaney, or T.C. as we all know and love him, has been playing some of the area’s best dance tunes for over a decade! Actually he has been playing music for over 30 years, at one time owning his own business, T.C.’s Mobile Disco. “I have played any and every kind of party you can think of,” he states, “and even some you can’t!” T.C. is the third of three children and the only son. His one sister lives out of town, and the other lives near him, visiting often and sharing daily conversations. His parents are both deceased, but were a great support to him over the years. T.C. describes his father as an outdoorsman, a guy who liked fishing, hunting and sports. He never developed an interest for those things, but his father became a help to him once out, and often traveled with him to help set up the turntables and other equipment for his

business. His mother was a costume judge for the drag shows back when he worked at the Silver Slipper. “I have been ‘out’ to myself and friends since I was 21,” he said, “but not to my family until I was about 25.” His mother said she had known for two years, but felt that was something he would share when he felt ready. His family was very curious about the lifestyle, and not knowing, originally thought being gay meant wanting a sex change. He was able to explain some

of the misconceptions, and his parents remained supportive and welcoming of all those they eventually met. He shares that one of the most difficult moments in his life was the loss of his best friend to the AIDS virus back in the 80’s. “I’ll never get over it, he was way too young, only 27.” T.C. is currently the Zone’s oldest employee in both age and length of service. He has what could be considered a front row seat to the changing scene in gay bars as well. He believes one of the biggest

changes is seeing so many straight people at the bar on any given night of the week. “Back in the day that would have been unheard of,” he said. “Now you can come out to certain places and no one thinks anything anymore, no one thinks you are gay just because you are there.” But over the speaker system we always welcome the crowd to Erie’s Premier Gay Bar as we never want to lose sight of that.” When asked why there still See T.C.

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February, 2009

The Community Voice

Homosexuality, Tunisian Style Part I: No Gays Please, We’re Tunisian

By John Champagne The Avenue Habib Bourgiba is downtown Tunis’s main thoroughfare. Built by the French colonizers as a version of the Champs Elysees and named after Tunisia’s first president, it stretches from the bay of Tunis to the entrance to the medina, the Tunisian T h e

C o m m u n i t y

The Community Voice is a monthly newsletter published by Erie Gay Pride, Inc. and four29media. The newsletter is designed to present news, features and other content of interest to the Erie regional GLBT community, its supporters and friends. If you have items to submit for publication consideration, please email them to content@ eriecv.org or mail them to The Community Voice, Erie Gay Pride, Inc., P.O. Box 8027, Erie, PA 16505. CoEditors: Kim Young and Bob Howden.

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capital’s ancient city. While the avenue is divided by a wide promenade full of trees that provide welcome shade in the hot summer months, most pedestrians prefer to stroll along the sidewalks on either side of the street. Lined with restaurants, banks, movie theaters, high-rise hotels and shops, these sidewalks offer a perfect vantage point for people watching. Day-tripping European tourists from cruise ships; slender and handsome Tunisian teenage boys, their arms draped around one another’s shoulders or waists; middle-aged women in colorful headscarves holding hands with their jean-clad daughters; members of the large Tunisian military bureaucracy: police, traffic cops, embassy guards, soldiers; visitors from nearby Algeria and Libya or wealthier and more distant Egypt or Dubai — all can be spotted taking an afternoon stroll along the sidewalks of the Avenue. Of course, as I learned very early in my tenure as a visiting professor of English at a Tunisian university, the very best place from which to enjoy the crowd is a seat on the terrace of one of the many cafés. Cafés are one of the only public places where men and women, Tunisians and tourists, all gather and mingle, though, given the fact that Tunisia is a Muslim country, only foreigners are allowed to drink alcohol on a terrace. Most cafés in Tunisia are sexsegregated, the majority being places where local men go to drink coffee, smoke tobacco from a hookah, play cards, and network — a vitally important

Contributed photo An ancient gate is shown at the entrance to the medina in Tunis. activity in a country where from my seat at my favorite jobs can be scarce. But given haunt — the Café de Paris, the fact that Habib Bourgiba is chosen because it always atprime real estate, its cafés tend tracted more Tunisians than to be welcoming to both men tourists — were any signs of a and women. visible, easily identifiable gay At a café on the Avenue, for or lesbian culture. While the two dinars or so, (equivalent gay visitor in particular might to $1.60,) one can wile away be thrown initially by the ways a whole afternoon reading a in which Tunisian men and newspaper, sipping a coke and women openly display their perusing the passing crowd as physical affection for the same if one were a local. Given the sex — whenever we would history of North Africa, Tunicross the Avenue together, sians do not have a single iden- for example, my friend Hsin tifiable “look,” and some of my would grab my hand to make fair-haired, blue-eyed students- sure that I would not be run –– people of Berber extraction- down by one of Tunis’s no–– are sometimes mistaken by toriously reckless cab drivers other Tunisians for Westerners. — and while the sight of a (The Berber presence predates man walking down the street the Arab conquest of North Af- with a jasmine blossom tucked rica.) In deference to my hosts behind his ear might (wrongly) and as an attempt to “pass,” I suggest otherwise, in a selfnever drank alcohol in public, identified Muslim culture, open just as I never wore shorts or signs of Western-style gay tee shirts, and I learned a few identity are frowned upon if words of Tunisian Arabic. not absolutely taboo. Although However, I was never mistaken the passages in the Koran for a local, though generally that forbid homosexuality are people assumed I was French as ambiguous and, in some rather than from the U.S. See Tunis 10 What I almost never saw


The Community Voice

February, 2009

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There’s more to the Niagara Region than water falls and amusements

By Bob Howden The Community Voice

The Niagara Falls region is always an enjoyable place to go for a day, weekend or longer. Everyone loves the falls and its related attractions, but the region offers so much more. One of my favorite places is the community of Niagara-on-the-Lake, located in Ontario at the point where the Niagara River empties into Lake Ontario. It’s about a 10mile drive from Niagara Falls north along the scenic Niagara Parkway, past numerous wineries, farm markets, orchards and stately homes. Niagara-on-the-Lake, often called the loveliest town in Ontario, features worldclass theater, fine dining, shopping, wineries, farm markets and historical sites. The town was settled at the close of the American Revolution by Loyalists coming to Canada. In 1792, it became the first capital of the newly-created colony of Upper Canada, and the town continued to prosper as the economic, administrative and judicial center for the Niagara peninsula. During the War of 1812, the town, with the exception of the powder magazine at nearby Fort George, was burned by the Americans. Rebuilt, Niagara became an active commercial center, with a busy shipping and ship-building industry, as well as many shops and warehouses. The beautiful old homes lining the tree-shaded streets attest to the prosperity of its citizens. Today, Niagara-on-the-Lake hums with activity all year

long. Its many attractions include historic sites such as Fort George, the famous George Bernard Shaw Festival with its three theaters, quaint shops and restaurants, lovely gardens and parks, and the world famous Niagara wineries and farm markets. There are a variety of special events throughout the year including Winterglow which takes place every December through February. Winterglow is described as “a feeling of well being, unique to Niagara-on-the-Lake, generally felt in the vicinity of Historic sites, wineries, spas, the Heritage Shopping District, fine accommodation and dining facilities.” There is also a film series every Saturday and a variety of other activities to keep you entertained. Not matter what time of year you venture north to the Niagara region, Niagara-on-the-Lake offers a unique combination of

scenic beauty and entertaining activities. If you want to spend a weekend, the area is full of quaint Bed and Breakfasts as well as more traditional hotels/ motels. A short drive back toward Niagara Falls will bring you to Queenston Heights and the Butterfly Conservatory at the Niagara Parks Commission site. If you are in the region on a weekend, I highly recommend the Sunday Brunch served at the Queenston Heights Restaurant located adjacent to the

Brock Monument. Although this restaurant is closed during the winter, it’s well worth a visit if you are in the area in the spring, summer or fall. Whether you’re considering a day, weekend or longer trip to the Niagara region, you must check-out Niagara-on-the-Lake. But before you go, log on to the town’s Web site: www. niagaraonthelake.com. Everything you want to know from accommodations and dining, to parking and shopping, can be found here.


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February, 2009

The Community Voice

And The Beat Goes On...

New Year and New Releases By DJ Sparkplug Well, it’s the start of a great new year! There are a few pretty cool new releases out, but not a ton at this time because most of the labels and distributors in the UK and around the globe tend to close up for about a month during the holidays. The U.S. labels appear to be copying that trend as there were very few releases the last three weeks. It may take another week or two for things to get back into full mode again, and with the Miami Winter Music Conference creeping up, we should see lots of great music coming soon. So be on the lookout next month for some great new releases here! The biggest release is sure to please the hard core circuit fans. It’s Offer Nissim: Remixed. This magically delicious CD is broken down into two parts. Part one contains some of Offer’s biggest tracks featuring the amazing vocals of Maya Simantov (most of us just know her as Maya) and remixed by other big name DJs. These mixes have never been released on CD and will likely be fresh to most of you. You get a

DJ Fist mix of Perfect Love, Agent Greg remixes of Why and Heartbreaking and a hot take on Only You by Zoltan Kontes. There are 10 fulllength un-mixed tracks on disc one, with all but one over seven minutes in length. Disc 2 also contains 10 full length un-mixed tracks, but these are all Offer’s original productions. A few of these have been around, but there are also plenty of brand spankin’ new tracks. Other than the staple tracks featuring the vocals of Maya like Happy People, Why, For Your Love and Wish You Were Here you get a brand new instrumental track titled Bimbo, a dubby Remember My Name which is loosely based around the hit Fame, and then there is the Dana International revamp of Petra which uses minimal yet effective vocals. This is an essential edition to any Offer Nissim fan’s music library.

You can’t help but close your eyes and see those arms wailing in the air ... You gotta love it ... He’s one of a kind. You can bet bartender John will be playing some of these hot circuit mixes on his Tuesday nights at the Zone! So that’s about the hottest new release, but there are still some really great singles releases too. If you want to complete your gay dance collection, there’s Madonna’s Miles Away. Some other great hits are Nicki Richards Bring The Love, David Gordon Get Up!, Gioia Your Love Is Lifting Me (Higher & Higher) (Remixes), Michael M Let Ya Have It / Motivation, Ceevox Your Love (Got 2 Have It) (2009 Remixes), Enrique Iglasias Feat, Sean Garrett Away, and Christian Falk Featuring Robyn Dream On.

Ok, I saved my personal favorites for the last two, and ones that have been getting good weekend play at the Zone and other clubs around the world. These hot tracks are Michael Woods Feat, Inaya Day Natural High and Jennifer Carbonnel vs Friscia & Lamboy Broken Pieces. It’s not too often you can break hot tracks like these in our local clubs, but we were playing them here and getting great crowd response before they hit the global dance charts! It’s a great time to hear huge club hits like these in the mix with popular top 40 tracks like Britney’s Womanizer or Circus. So don’t forget to check out some of these hot new tracks and support your artists to continue the great new dance and club music in 2009!


The Community Voice

February, 2009

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When it comes to financial planning, Gays and Lesbians need to do their homework This is the first article in a series that will focus on Pennsylvania inheritance tax regulations, related federal estate tax, income tax and other legal issues facing same-sex couples. A lot of attention has been given to religious, societal and family attitudes toward gay and lesbian same-sex couples. However, little is discussed about how tax laws favor traditional married couples over same-sex couples. The differences are significant! At the federal level, the law is quite clear. Same-sex couples are “strangers” in the eyes of the law. The passage of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 1996 codified this view. DOMA defines the term “marriage” for the purpose of federal tax law, and it permits states to deny marriage-type relationships for same-sex couples even though the relationships may be recognized in other states. DOMA states that “in determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word ‘marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and

one woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.” A U.S. Government Accountability Office report in December 2003 identified 1,138 federal statues in which marital status is a factor in determining or receiving federal benefits, rights and privileges. These benefits include access to Social Security and related programs, veterans benefits, benefits related to income, estate and gift taxes, immigration law, and access to federal civilian and veterans benefits. Same-sex couples are prohibited from filing joint federal tax returns and taking advantage of the unlimited gift and marital estate tax deductions. The inability to marry creates significant distinctions from traditional married-couple benefits and is one of the rationales for some companies to grant workplace benefits to the partners of same-sex employees. The issues become even more complex as each state has specific tax statues that benefit married couples and many of these state benefits are out of reach of same-sex couples. Because family law

is typically codified at the state level, each state has the power to adopt and modify its own laws which significantly impact the planning opportunities for same-sex couples. In fact, a number of states are currently drafting laws affecting only same-sex partners – some of these drafts are favorable and some are not. For example, Vermont is one of a growing number of states providing marriage-like protections in the form of civil unions. Under Vermont law, civil unions are given all the same state benefits, protections and responsibilities as that of a traditional marriage. At the opposite extreme, Virginia forbids the creation of contracts or legal status that would convey same-sex couples the same rights of traditional marriage. At this time, Pennsylvania is closer to Virginia’s views of same-sex relationships. Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax According to the old saying, “the only sure thing is death and taxes.” Unfortunately, partners of gays and lesbians shoulder a greater tax burden than their hetero-married counterparts. Same-sex

couples living in Pennsylvania, or living in another state outside Pennsylvania but owning Pennsylvania real estate, will inevitably face Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax. The Pa. tax code implements an inheritance tax based upon an heir’s relationship to the deceased. For married couples and charitable organizations, the tax rate is 0%. For direct descendants (parents, children, grand-children, etc) the tax rate is 4.5%. For siblings, the tax rate is 12%. For everyone else, including the same-sex partner, the tax rate is 15%. Look at a simple example of Adam and Eve Jones. Let’s assume that Adam dies and leaves all of his estate to Eve. According to Pa. law, Eve will not have any inheritance tax due. Now let’s look at Adam Jones and Steve Smith, a samesex couple having a relationship lasting 30 years. Adam dies and leaves his entire estate to Steve. If the value of assets in Adams’ individual name total $300,000, Steve will have to pay approximately $45,000 to Pennsylvania. Consequently, unless the gay or lesbian individuals have children as heirs, most will See Taxes

JOHN E. COOPER, ESQ.

Attorney at Law 305 French Street Erie, PA 16501 SSSSS Phone: (814) 455-3436 Fax: (814) 455-2680 Email: johncooperlaw@msn.com Toll Free: 866-803-0490

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February, 2009

The Community Voice

Holiday Dinner spreads lots of cheer among members of the GLBT community Some 30 members of the local GLBT community and their friends came together Sunday, Dec. 28, for a holiday meal served at the Unitarian Universalist

Congregation of Erie. The pot luck supper featured freshcooked turkey and ham, and a wide variety of dishes and desserts made by those at-

tending the event. The holiday dinner was sponsored by Erie Gay Pride, Inc. and PFLAG of Erie and Crawford Counties.

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National News Notes . . .

Portland largest U.S. city with openly gay mayor Sam Adams has been sworn in as Mayor of the city of Portland, OR. With a population estimated at 575,000, it has become the largest city in the nation to elect an openly gay mayor. Seven months ago, Adams won 58 percent of the vote in a primary election against a travelagency owner and other, less well known, candidates. That meant he didn’t have to run in a November runoff election. Adams didn’t campaign on gay rights or social issues. “I’m running not to be a gay mayor, but a great mayor,” he said. None of Adams’ opponents raised his sexuality in the race. Neither did he. “This is a testament to how fair-minded Portlanders are that it wasn’t an issue,” Adams said. “I spend my time on the basic issues of life. A part of that includes equal rights, but that’s not even close to a majority of the time.” Researchers find link between rejection and health issues For the first time, researchers have established a clear link between family rejection of lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) adolescents and negative health outcomes in early adulthood. The findings were published in the January issue of Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, in an article entitled “Family Rejection as a Predictor of Negative Health Outcomes in White and Latino Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Young Adults.” The paper, written by Caitlin Ryan, PhD, Director of the Family Acceptance Project, and her team at the César E. Chávez Institute at San Francisco State University, shows that negative parental behaviors toward LGB

February, 2009

children dramatically compromises their health. The discovery has far reaching implications for changing how families relate to their LGB children and how a wide range of providers serve LGB youth across systems of care. “For the first time, research has established a predictive

link between specific, negative family reactions to their child’s sexual orientation and serious health problems for these adolescents in young adulthood such as depression, illegal drug use, risk for HIV infection, and suicide attempts,” said Ryan. “The new body of research we are generating will help develop resources, tools and interventions to strengthen families, prevent homelessness, reduce the proportion of youth in foster care and significantly improve the lives of LGBT young people and their families.” Some of the researchers’ major findings include: v Higher rates of family rejection during adolescence were significantly associated with poorer health outcomes for LGB young adults. v LGB young adults who reported higher levels of family rejection during adolescence were 8.4 times more likely to report having attempted suicide, 5.9 times more likely to report high levels of depression, 3.4 times more likely to use illegal drugs, and 3.4 times more likely to report having engaged in unprotected sexual intercourse, compared with peers from families that reported no or low levels of family rejection. v Latino males reported the highest number of negative family reactions to their sexual

orientation in adolescence. Clergy launch challenge to Cleveland domestic partner registry A group of ministers opposed to Cleveland’s new domestic partner registry say they will try to repeal or force a vote on the issue. The registry would enable same-sex and unmarried couples who live in or out of Cleveland to make an official record of their relationship. It’s aim is to help provide health care and other benefits normally available to married couples. Rev. C. Jay Matthews of Cleveland’s Mt. Sinai Baptist Church is leading the opposition which includes ministers from Cleveland and suburban churches. Matthews claims the measure was rushed through city council without an opportunity for sufficient debate. Councilman Joe Cimperman, the law’s sponsor, denies this claim. “We believe that council acted for a very focused group of citizens by passing this law.” Council passed the measure 13-7. We are going to appeal to a very focused group of citizens who do not want to give this definition of family to our children,” Matthews said. Not all clergy oppose the law. Rev. John Tamilio III, pastor of Pilgrim Congregational United Church of Christ Church, whose membership includes dozens of gays, asks why the opposing ministers are not concerned with other social issues. “There are so many things they could be doing. Why are they not putting their energies on real issues that affect families like health care, education and homelessness?” Rev. Tamilio asked. “My question to those ministers (opposed) is this. What would Christ do in this situation. Wouldn’t he be committed to human rights?” Councilman Cimperman asked.

Those opposed to the measure need about 11,000 valid signatures from Cleveland voters to get a referendum on the ballot. Economic woes hit gay community center Michigan’s largest community center for gays and lesbians is cutting its hours and laying off 25 percent of its staff as it deals with decreased donations and economic hard times. The Affirmations center in Ferndale, is some $28,000 short of its $108,000 year-end fundraising goal. As a result, the center has had to cut its hours of operation and lay-off six part-time and one full-time staff. “We tried to pick areas we could cut that would have the absolute least impact on direct programs and services,” said Chief Executive Officer Leslie Thompson, who said overhead and operating expenses have already been cut by $40,000. The center’s budget is about $1.3 million. Thompson said she’s been running nonprofits for more than 20 years and “I’ve never seen a year end as bad as this one,” she said. At Affirmations, Thompson said 95 percent of the center’s budget comes from grants, individual donations and fundraisers and “a lot of our donors are directly connected to the auto industry.” Seattle gay bars receive threatening letters Police in Seattle are taking seriously letters sent to 11 gay bars that threatened ricin attacks and are treating the incident as a hate crime Police seized the letters sent to the bars and the alternative weekly newspaper, The StrangSee News

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February, 2009

The Community Voice

News, from

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er for processing, and said it is coordinating the investigation with federal agencies, according to the Seattle Times. The author of the anonymous letters said, “I have in my possession approximately 67 grams of ricin with which I will indiscriminately target at least five of your clients. ... I expect them to die painfully while in hospital.” The letter to the The Stranger said it should be “prepared to announce the deaths of Taxes, from

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encounter the 12% Pa. tax to siblings or 15% Pa. tax to their partner or other heirs. Exempt Assets Fortunately, the Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax does exempt a few assets from the inheritance tax. One such asset is life insurance. Although this asset could be taxable for federal estate tax purposes without appropriate planning, Pennsylvania exempts proceeds of life insurance from inheritance tax. A potential planning technique is to structure cross-ownership of policies whereby each partner is the owner and beneficiary of a life insurance policy on the other. This allows the death benefit of the policy to avoid inclusion for federal estate tax as well as Pa. inheritance tax. However, careful planning should be taken between couples using this technique. The laws governing insurance policies are enforced in part by the state laws in which the application and policy are completed and signed. In states where the general legal environment is particularly hostile, it may be prudent to have the policies purchased from an agent in a state where

approximately 55 individuals.” Ricin is a poison found in castor beans that can be deadly if purified, then ingested or inhaled. Gay marriage foes in California want donors kept anonymous Supporters of the Proposition 8 ballot measure that banned gay marriage in California have filed a lawsuit seeking to block their campaign finance records from public view, saying some donors are being harassed. the laws are more favorable. Further, state specific “insurable interest” laws could also complicate this technique. To purchase life insurance, one must have an “insurable interest” –– often a relationship or joint financial obligation as recognized by each state’s laws. Because samesex partners are considered “strangers” in the eyes of some laws, insurable interest is not automatically granted or inherent as it is for married couples, and consequently life insurance death benefits could be withheld from an insurance company. Another asset that is exempt from PA inheritance tax, is an IRA or retirement plan of a decedent under the age of 59 ½. Although there is no income tax advantage that a traditional married couple would have, IRAs and retirement plans could also be exempt if the partner dies before 59 ½ year of age. Asset Ownership and Titling Some same-sex couples desire to own assets jointly. If couples title accounts “joint with rights of survivorship” (JWROS) they will avoid probate –– the expenses, timing and complications. However,

“No one should have to worry about getting a death threat because of the way he or she votes,” said James Bopp Jr., an attorney representing the groups Protect Marriage.com and the National Organization for Marriage California. “This lawsuit will protect the right of all people to help support causes they agree with, without having to worry about harassment or threats.” The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Sacramento, asks the court to order the California

Secretary of State’s office to remove all donations in support of Proposition 8 from its Web site. It also asks the court to relieve the two groups and “all similarly situated persons” from having to meet the state’s campaign disclosure requirements. Proposition 8, approved by 52.3 percent of California voters on Nov. 4, reversed a state Supreme Court decision allowing gay marriage. The measure’s opponents have asked the Supreme Court to overturn it.

Pa. Inheritance tax will be levied on the value of these assets. If the transfer into joint ownership occurred within a year of death, the entire value of the asset is taxed at 15%. If death occurred after a year of transferring assets into joint ownership, then one-half of the value will incur the 15% death tax. Again, appropriate caution needs to be given to titling assets in joint name as federal tax laws could have negative consequences. With jointly owned accounts, federal taxable gifts occur not when money is deposited into an account, but rather when assets are withdrawn from the joint account. Often with any relationship, one partner earns more than the other. If contributions to accounts are not equal, tax could be levied on the excess of contributions that are beyond the annual federal gift exclusions for the year in which withdrawals are made ($13,000 in 2009). If either partner’s withdraw exceeds that amount, a gift tax return would need to be filed. Whereas, traditional married couples are permitted to gift unlimited amounts between spouses. With real estate that is titled with JWROS, a gift can occur

at the inception of the purchase if the parties contribute disproportionate amounts for a down payment and the contribution difference between the parties exceeds the annual gift exclusion. A gift also can be triggered upon paying down the mortgage note on the property if one party contributes an amount above his or her pro rata obligation that exceeds the annual gift exclusion. Cumbersome Entanglements Given the patchwork of federal law and differing state law, it is critical for gay men, lesbians and same-sex couples to be familiar with the laws in their jurisdictions and to seek the advice of financial professionals. As battles rage at the local, state and federal level over the amount of protection and recognition given to same-sex relationships, it is likely that this area will remain in flux. Changing and unfavorable governmental policies, greater taxes, the reality of employment discrimination and the inability to marry all dictate a significant demand for sound financial and estate planning for gay men, lesbians and same-sex couples.


The Community Voice

February, 2009

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Book Review

A second chance at fated love

By Twila Fated Love by Radclyffe is about a very strong and durable couple torn apart by the death of one of them. Dr. Honor Blake lost the love of her life to a construction accident seven years ago. Not only was she devastated beyond belief, but she was also now the single mother of a sevenyear-old daughter, Arly. While at work in the hospital E.R. one day, the usual thoughts of spending the rest of her life alone because she was certain no woman could ever fill the void left by Terry’s death, run through her mind. Then in walks Dr. Quinn

McGuire. While greatly different in what she had lost, Dr. McGuire also believes she has lost everything dear to her. She had been diagnosed with a heart condition and told that she could no longer perform surgery. Her job had become her constant companion, and now it was ripped from her. As soon as Dr. McGuire entered Dr. Blake’s E.R., the air was filled with tension. Blake cannot figure out what a top-notch surgeon would be doing in an E.R., but she certainly aims to find out. During a picnic at Honor Blake’s neighbors, the kids coerce

Dr. McGuire to join them in a game of soccer. While trying to save a small child from an errant kick of the soccer ball, Dr. McGuire dislocates her shoulder and has the ever present Dr. Blake take her to the hospital for x-rays. During this unplanned togetherness, Honor learns that Quinn has a defibrillator implant for her heart, and instantly feels the need to protect her. Little by little the walls around Honor Blake’s heart come down, but not without reservation as she realizes that she is falling love. Knowing that Quinn is sick puts Honor in a spot she doesn’t know if

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she can handle. Faced with the prospect of falling in love again and risking another great loss, she struggles with the all-consuming attraction of Dr. Quinn McGuire. Quinn is not easily dismissed and slowly Honor realizes there is no denying that what she feels is love. Together they form a strong family and learn to love again. It just goes to show you that no matter how much hurt and heartache you may endure, there is always room in your heart for more love. Don’t be afraid to take a chance, because you never know if you will find Fated Love.

Safe Horizons 814.438.2675

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www.UnmaskingtheFacesofDomesticViolence.com A Collaborative Project Sponsored by United Way Women in Action


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February, 2009

The Community Voice

Tunis, from

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quarters debated, as those of the Bible, and while a tradition of pre-Islamic Arab homoerotic poetry is known to many educated Tunisians, initially, I found it nearly impossible to spot any Tunisian I could identify as gay. Of course, same-sex desire, if not identity, is expressed in Tunisia, as it is in virtually every part of the world. The ways in which that desire is expressed, however, are complicated and sometimes contradictory — as is also the case in the West, where “straight” men sometimes run personal ads seeking out other straight men for sex, or fraternity boys who watch porn together. Unfortunately, it is all too easy for the nonTunisian to bring his or her own way of viewing gay life to Tunisia and so miss the richness of it, or dismiss those men (and women) who do feel desire for the same sex as simply “closet cases” repressed by religion or government. Historians and anthropologists have noted that, in the Mediterranean, there is a long historical tradition of sexual coupling in which an older though unmarried “active” male pursues a younger “passive” one, a practice conditioned, perhaps, by the late age at which people marry and the resulting long period of segregation of the sexes. (Female virginity is still prized among Tunisians — so much so that, at least according to rumors, there are doctors who make part of their T.C., from

living “restoring” torn hymen.) In some cases, this adolescent homosexual sexual behavior is considered a stage of life that is ultimately left behind, and so men who continue the practice into adulthood — or, worse yet, men beyond a certain age who still prefer to be the “passive” partner — are sometimes subject to rebuke, if not worse. (There is also some debate among Islamic scholars concerning the morality of particular acts. While adultery and homosexual coitus are both considered sinful, oral sex, regardless of who is engaging in it with whom, has a much more ambiguous status.) One of the consequences of this attitude towards adolescent male sex play is that adolescent homosexual behavior is sometimes dismissed as harmless. In other words, given the virtual non-existence of a visible homosexual social identity, a lot less seems to be at stake in adolescent homosexual experimentation in the Mediterranean than in the US, and, as a result, young men in particular might be more rather than less willing to engage in homosexual acts. Simply put, fooling around with other boys does not necessarily make someone “really” homosexual or suggest anything about one’s future proclivities. Sexual acts do not add up to a sexual identity. Of course, some boys never have sex with other boys, while, conversely, some that do ultimately enter into heterosexual relationships but continue occasionally to have sex with

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seems to be a population of gay people who do not go out at all in Erie, he said the number one reason is people fear for their jobs. “Erie just is not that accepting yet, but we are trying to change that.”

men. And still others restrict themselves exclusively to male sexual partners. But my sense is that only a small percentage of all of these men who have had sex with other males consider themselves “different” in the sense of possessing a sexual identity that is separate and distinct from that of most of their fellow Tunisians. As “natural” as it might seem to those of us who call ourselves gay, a social identity built upon same-sex desire was until recently relatively rare in Tunisia — particularly given the cultural and economic importance placed on marriage and family ties. These days, however, as a result of global forms of media like music and satellite television, Tunisians are regularly exposed to Western notions of gay identity. Though sometimes clumsily censored, Western shows with gay characters –– like The OC or the Spanish Un Dos Tres, a Fame-style show about a performing arts school –– are easily available via satellite dish, as are gay phone sex ads that made me blush. (Nearly every home in Tunisia has some kind of satellite device, jerry-rigged or otherwise.) As Tunisians who feel same-sex desire see more representations from the West of gay life, they too, are likely to imitate these ways — even as they transform them so as to habituate them to the realities and mores of Tunisian culture. But because a visible gay identity is sometimes seen in the Islamic world as a prod-

T.C. is also employed full-time at the Barber National Institute. Last year he was honored for 30 years of continuous and devoted service. “You are a part of the lives of the clients every day,” he said, “and they become part of your family.” The care and concern he has for those he works with is obvious.

uct of the West, a rejection of gay identity may relate to a rejection of the West, its very different standards of what constitutes appropriate public behavior and dress, and its perceived anti-Arab, pro-Israeli biases. Author Edward Said notes that some in the Arab world have responded to negative representations of Islam in the U.S. media, by adopting cultural symbols. For example, young women in countries like Tunisia who might never have chosen to wear the hijab, or head scarf (there is no tradition of head-to-toe veiling in Tunisia. In fact at the time of independence, wearing even the head scarf was outlawed), are today choosing to wear the veil as a sign of their faith. In the face of Western hostility to veiling, they feel compelled to adopt this very public symbol of devotion. My fear is that, as long as we continue to allow our media to portray Islam in a distorted light — and continue to support repressive Arab regimes while failing to encourage those working towards true democracy –– we will make it harder for those Tunisians who wish to “come out” to do so. It is only recently that young straight couples have begun to hold hands in public in Tunisia. It should not be surprising, then, that gay life in its more public forms is virtually non-existent. Dr. John Champagne is Associate Professor of English at Penn State Erie.

Though he truly enjoys Sci Fi horror movies, good dance music remains a first love. This is just as obvious when you are out enjoying the music he plays every Saturday night. Thanks T.C. for all the years of what makes going out so much fun. Not just the good music, but the very special people.


The Community Voice

February, 2009

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FEBRUARY 2

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Groundhog Day

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Lincoln’s Birthday

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Valentine’s Day

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Washington’s Birthday

Area events Feb. 3 vThe Harlem Globetrotters perform, Erie Civic Center, 7 p.m. Tickets are

now on sale at the Civic Center box office or through Ticketmaster.

ticket prices $46.75 and $37.75. Call (814) 452-4857 or (814) 456-7070 or purchase at the Erie Civic Center box office, Ticketmaster outlets or www. ticketmaster.com.

and Grill in the Boston Store (State Street), Erie, from 6-8 p.m. Join us for this great opportunity to network with gay/gay friendly business people and professionals.

St, Erie, at 7 p.m. Local activist Doris Cipolla will be speaking about marriage equality and other issues relevant to the GLBT community. Everyone is invited to attend.

11 and 12; 8 p.m., Feb. 13; 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Feb. 14; 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Feb. 15. Tickets available through Ticketmaster.

& 20; 11 a.m., 3 and 7 p.m.,Feb. 21; 2 p.m. Feb. 22. Ticket prices vary and are available at the Erie Civic Center box office and through Ticketmaster.

$46, $41 and may be purchased at the Erie Civic Center box office or through Ticketmaster. vFriday, Feb 13, 2009, 7 p.m., Unitarian Church of Jamestown –– WatchFire Alliance invites LGBTs everywhere to a Valentine’s Dance: bring your favorite music for dancing. Contact Bethany Robson (716) 499-4817 or brobson515@msn.com.

at Union Station, Erie. Tickets are $10. Event includes the raffling of a limited edition lithograph of baseball great Roberto Clemente by Erie sports artist Kevin-John Jobinski. Raffle tickets are also $10 each. v Rain: The Beatles Experience, Warner Theater in downtown Erie, 7 p.m. This show is a multi-media, multi-dimensional event featuring five different scene and costume changes, three video screens and live camera projection, combining television commercials and historical video footage from the ‘60’s. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster. (Rain: The Beatles Experience will also be performing Feb. 21 at Shea’s Performing Arts Theater in Buffalo.)

Feb. 6 v G2H2 (Gay Guy/Girl Happy Hour) will be held at Under the Clock Bar

Feb. 10 v Mama Mia, Shea’s Performing Arts Theater, Buffalo, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 10, Feb. 13 v The Temptations in concert, Erie Civic Center, 8 p.m. Tickets are: $51,

Feb. 14 v The Erie Philharmonic presents: The Piano Man –– A Tribute to Billy

Joel, Warner Theater in downtown Erie, 8 p.m. For ticket information, call (814) 455-1375. v Valentine’s Day Dance, The Latonia Theater, 1 East First St., Oil City, 8 p.m. Sponsored by the Oil City Gay/Straight Alliance, BYOB.

Feb. 16 v Come on OUT! to Trivia Night, Presque Isle Gallery and Coffeehouse, 7

p.m., bring your team of four (maximum) or join others to form a team. Great questions and great prizes. Presque Isle Gallery and Coffeehouse is located at the entrance to Presque Isle State Park next to Sara’s. v The Drowsy Chaperone, Warner Theater in downtown Erie, 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $51.75, $41.75, $31.75. Groups of 15 receive a discount. Group

Feb. 18 v Erie Gay Business Alliance meets at Matthew’s Trattoria, 153 E. 13th

Feb. 19 vDisney on Ice: A Disneyland Adventure, Erie Civic Center, 7 p.m., Feb. 19 Feb. 22 v Third Annual Chil-E-Cook-off benefiting SafeNet, 1 to 6 p.m. at Brewerie

Feb.26 vFeb. 26 to Mar. 21 –– Men in Suits, Directors Circle Theater, 1001 State

St. (Renaissance Center, 2nd floor), 8 p.m. A “Mafia” comedy by Jason Milligan. If you miss the “Sopranos,” you’ll love this fast-paced comedy directed by Caryl Unseld. Call 451-1153 for ticket information.

Feb. 28 v An Evening with Alec Baldwin, Performing Arts Center at Rockwell Hall,

Buffalo State College, 8 p.m. (rescheduled from Jan 31). For ticket information, call (716) 878-3005.


Our Mission To promote the health and well-being of Gay, Lesbian,

Bisexual, and Transgender persons, their families, and friends through: Support, to cope with an adverse society; Education, to enlighten an ill-informed public; and Advocacy, to end discrimination and to secure equal civil rights. Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays provides opportunity for dialogue about sexual orientation and gender identity, and acts to create a society that is healthy and respectful of human diversity.

Having a tough time in life, have questions about your sexuality or a loved one’s sexuality, and need a group of caring, supportive, and friendly people, who are going through the same issues you are facing in today’s world? Are you looking for a supportive, caring, and friendly group, who truly understands what it is like to be living in a Society full of questions about one’s sexuality, inequality, and the environment surrounding them?

Why not give us a try? We are here for you to answer any of your questions and give you the support you may need. If your looking to meet some outstanding members of your community with hopes of building great friendships, you should really come and check us out! Meeting’s are held monthly on the 2nd Monday at the UUCE 7180 New Perry Highway Erie, PA from 7pm-9pm Any questions feel free to contact us PO Box 8914 Erie, PA 16505 814.454.1392 (John) PFLAG.ERIE.CRAWFORD@GMAIL.COM

DBC3 PUBLISHING

The Community Voice - February 2009  

The Community Voice - February 2009 Issue

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