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Homosexuality Tunisian style: Part II
INSIDE: Test your ‘Queer’ knowledge
Volume 1, Issue 5
Take a walk back in time to experience old fashioned maple syrup production By Bob Howden The Community Voice
As the winter weather begins to moderate in March, it’s time to begin tapping maple trees and producing maple syrup in the region. The Northwest Pennsylvania Maple Association has scheduled its sixth annual Taste and Tour Weekend March 14 and 15, giving area residents an opportunity to tour maple sugaring operations in the area and taste some of the delicious products made this time of year. During the hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day, interested individuals can visit some 12 different maple sugaring operations in Erie, Crawford and Venango counties to learn more about the process. One of those sites is Hurry Hill Farm in
Edinboro, owned and operated by Janet Woods and Lisa Nathanson. Located at 11380 Fry Road, Hurry Hill Farm dates back to 1846 when the land was first settled. During the two-day Taste and Tour weekend, visitors to Hurry Hill Farm experience what it was like to make maple syrup and maple products the way it was done generations ago. “Folks come to Hurry Hill to see sugaring done the old fashion way,” says Woods. “No electricity, in the woods and in a sugarhouse that is wood-fired.” Visitors to Hurry Hill are treated to a walking tour of the farm that in large part, is a local history lesson. You learn about Native
Sap in the maple trees begins to ‘run’ in early spring and is collected in buckets to be boiled down into maple syrup.
Americans who lived in the region, the early settlers to the Edinboro area, the establishment of farms, villages and mills, and of course, the important role that maple sugaring played (and still plays) in local agriculture. See Maple
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‘Allow me to introduce ...’ Two loving couples … then and now By Kathy Czarnecki The Community Voice
Having attended Toronto Pride last summer, I was amazed at the number of people, and the attitude of the Canadians regarding this major event. Throughout the weekend we were asked about where we lived, and when local folks heard we lived in the T h e
C o m m u n i t y
FreeDigitalPhotos.net 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.
For more news and events in your community, visit eriegaypride.org Produced in association with ...
U.S., the reaction was pretty common, “Oh, what amedia bummer, well,www.four29media.com you can come here
and get married!” Because of the tireless efforts of the LGBT citizens in Canada, it has been legal to marry your same-sex partner there since 2003. Because of the tireless efforts of many LGBT people in the United States, the issue of same-sex marriage continues to be pushed to the forefront of every political event, debate and election in an effort to bring equal rights to the gay citizens of this country as well. Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon are two women whose names are internationally known for their role in the acquisition of equal rights. Both attended the University of California at Berkeley, but met a few years later when they both worked for the same publishing company. Together, along with six other lesbian women in California, they began The Daughters of Bilitis. Initially organized to provide mutual support and social opportunities, it actually became the first public
and political lesbian rights organization in the U.S., and became the springboard for the women’s and lesbian and gay liberation movements that grew in the early 70’s. As the first President of the DOB, Martin is remembered for writing the powerful words, “Nothing was ever accomplished by hiding in a dark corner.” In 1964, she was part of a group that founded the Council on Religion and the Homosexual, an organization that lobbied lawmakers to reduce police harassment. In later years she was instrumental in helping to organize the Lesbian Mother’s Union, the San Francisco Women’s Centers and the Bay Area Women’s Coalition, among many others. In 1996, Phyllis Lyon received the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality Public Service Award, of which she was most proud. It recognized her pioneering work in the lesbian movement which forced those in office
to sit up and take notice of the gay and lesbian activists in any community. In 1972, Martin and Lyon co-authored the book Lesbian/ Woman, which was chosen as one of the most influential books of the last 20 years. They have received the Earl Warren Civil Liberties Award, which is the ACLU’s highest honor. In addition to this, they have been named as delegates to the White House Conference on Aging, received the Outstanding Public Service Award, and have also had a health clinic named in their honor. For 55 years they worked tirelessly as a couple promoting social justice and equality. They remain two of the most beloved figures in the LGBT community. In June 2008, they were the first couple to be married when California’s same-sex couples gained that right. Del Martin was 87, and Phyllis Lyon was 83. (They were among the two dozen couples who were named as plaintiffs in a lawsuit that led the state Supreme Court to overturn the ban on gay marriage). Sadly, just two months after this momentous occasion, Del Martin passed away due to complications from a fall. “Ever since I met Del 55 years ago, I could never imagine a day would come when she wouldn’t be by my side,” Lyon said. “I also never imagined there would be a day that we would actually be able See Couples
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State GLBT legislative agenda outlined at meeting in Erie More than 30 people attending the Feb. 8 legislative update meeting in Erie, conducted by (left to right) Steve Glassman, chairman of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, Andy Hoover of the American Civil Liberties Union and Jake Kaskey of Equality Advocates Pennsylvania.
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Protecting Pennsylvania’s GLBT citizens from discrimination is the top legislative priority in 2009 according to representatives from the Pennsylvania Human Relation Commission, Equality Advocates Pennsylvania and the American Civil Liberties Union. The representatives met with more than 30 local residents Feb. 8 to outline GLBT legislative initiatives expected to occur this year. According to Steve Glassman, chairman of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, the top priority is to amend the current Pennsylvania Human Relations Act to include protection for GLBT people in housing, employment, public accommodations, education and finance/lending. “The law already provides these protections for all except the GLBT population,” Glassman noted. “We are not asking for any changes in the language of the law, only that GLBT people be included.” He added that currently, even straight people could be discriminated against if they are perceived as being gay because of the way they express or handle themselves. Currently in Pennsylvania, only 14 municipal jurisdictions (including Erie County) have passed local laws protecting GLBT individuals from discrimination. Jake Kaskey, education and outreach coordinator of Equality Advocates Pennsylvania, noted that businesses in Pennsylvania are far ahead of the state in protecting their GLBT employees against discrimination in the workplace. See GLBT
Learn more, be involved By Kathy Czarnecki The Community Voice
I had the opportunity to attend a meeting of the Pennsylvania Equality Forum Feb. 8. Along with meeting about 35 new people, I came away with three very important points regarding activism in our community: 1. The people who traveled from Harrisburg and Philadelphia to speak with us have been working on GLBT issues for a long time and they know what they are doing. 2. They take what they are doing very seriously. 3. I have a lot to learn. It was very informative, interesting, exciting, and also a little intimidating to listen to people who obviously have more invested in these issues than just a personal opinion. Many of the people I talked with agreed that though there is much to learn, getting involved can be as simple as attendance at one of these meetings, making a few phone calls, certainly sharing why our civil rights are important to anyone who might disagree, and doing some of our own research right from home. Begin a file, print off some information, write a letter, send an article. As I continue with my own personal research on topics related to the LGBT community, I have come up with a list that may
get you started … but it is only a beginning … there are many more I am sure. vIn The Life –– National Sexuality Resource Center vGay Marriage News –– National Gay and Lesbian Task Force vFreedom to Marry –– American Civil Liberties Union vGay and Lesbian Activists Alliance vHuman Rights Coalition –– Christian Gays vGLADD –– Lesbian Herstory Archives vNOW –– Center for Constitutional Rights vDoSomething.org –– Equality Forum Of interest over the past few months is President Barack Obama’s agenda regarding LGBT issues. A list of the items he will focus on was taken from another very informative web site, www.whitehouse. gov. We encourage you to visit and read the explanations in their entirety. You will find it educational, informative and for many of us, maybe even hopeful. Here are the topics our President addresses: Expand hate crimes statutes, oppose a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, fight workplace discrimination, repeal don’t ask-don’t tell, expand adoption rights, promote AIDS prevention, support full civil union and Federal rights for GLBT couples.
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Everyone should have a chance to live ‘Tomorrow’s Promises’ By Twila The Community Voice
Tomorrow’s Promise is another great read from Radcliffe about two very different women who are thrown together over the course of a summer, begin to help each other heal and possibly find love together. Commander Adrienne Pierce is running from her structured life on the West Coast including her career with the U.S. Navy and her long time lover. While on medical leave from the Navy after a diagnosis of breast cancer, her girlfriend decides that she can’t handle the fact that Adrienne is sick and had to undergo a complete mastectomy of her left breast. Feeling the need to give herself some time to come to terms with all that is going on in her life, Adrienne decides to rent a house on Whitley Point on the other side of the country. This property is owned by the young and carefree Tanner Whitley, who lives life as she sees fit at the moment she is in. Suffering from the loss of her father, Tanner uses her great wealth and beauty in the true fashion of a playgirl. She uses drugs, alcohol and women as if
there were no tomorrow. One morning while nursing her hung-over self on the beach, she comes face to face with the one and only Adrienne Pierce. Being her usual self, Tanner immediately notices the beautiful woman, but also senses the sadness and hurt in her eyes. Being determined to find the cause and also be the one to take away the pain, Tanner becomes very persistent in her pursuit to get Adrienne to go out with her. Adrienne declines the dinner invitation, but through their conservation, learns that both she and Tanner share a great love of sailing. They agree to sail together and that is when the walls start coming down for Adrienne. She realized from the beginning that when it comes to Tanner Whitley, she could be in big trouble. After things start going Tanner’s way with Adrienne, as expected Adrienne’s ex-girlfriend shows up with Commander Tom Hardigan, and they try to persuade her to go back to San Diego and her “real life,” leaving her new plaything behind. Faced with some tough
choices, Adrienne decides to go with her heart and leave the past in the past. But she also realizes that Tanner is young and may not be able to handle the issues with her breast cancer and how long and full her life may or may not be. So, after deciding to return to San Diego and the familiar albeit not happy life she had already left, she takes her heavy heart and leaves Tanner behind. Needless to say Tanner got a little dose of reality and a taste of what a broken heart could feel like, so she decides to do the only thing that feels right. She begins to work nonstop, while barely taking time to sleep and eat, but also starts to put behind her wild and carefree party girl past. After eight months of
nonstop work and wondering about Adrienne and how she is doing, Adrienne just shows up on Whitley Point one day. Tanner notices immediately that they both look and feel lost, but is very afraid that Adrienne is just there to deliver bad news. She lashes out at Adrienne in anger and sadness and wants to know just what she is doing on the Point. Of course the answer to that question is that even though it may have taken eight months for her to realize it, there was no way she was going to be able to live without at least giving herself and Tanner a chance at love. After putting in a request to the Navy for a transfer to the east coast and having it approved, she and Tanner begin a life full of Tomorrow’s Promises.
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Homosexuality, Tunisian style Part II: Where the action is
By John Champagne
Special to The Community Voice
In Tunisia, the issue of homosexual identity is complicated by the country’s long history of European tourism, including sexual tourism. Unfortunately, thanks chiefly to some Westerners, young Tunisian men frequently assume that any single guy of European heritage is looking for vacation sex and is willing to pay the going rate. Many of these men might be called, in Western terms, “gay for pay.” They see nothing particularly disturbing to their sense of sexual identity in the fact that they are willing to have sex for money with a Westerner—particularly if they are going to assume an “active” role. The presence of sex hustlers on the streets and beaches of Tunisia is so prevalent and remarkedupon, even among Tunisians, that it became the subject of a Tunisian film, Nouri Bouzid’s Bezness (1992). The film explores the life of one hustler—whose clients include both men and women – his fiancé, (whom he expects to remain a virgin until they marry) and a visiting French photographer, its title being a kind of humorous combination of “business” and French slang for sexual intercourse. As the Café de Paris was largely frequented by men and had a reputation for being a place for Westerns and Tunisians to connect, I had to learn to cope with the daily propositions. The pitch usually began with “Bonjour!” progressed to a request for a coffee and ended with me either paying my check and fleeing or simply ignoring the harmless if sometimes annoying intrusion. While I eventually found it less
The Cafe’ de Paris on Avenue Habib Bourgiba in Tunis has a reputation for being a place where Western men and Tunisian men to “connect.” and less relaxing to be chatted up in this way, I continued to frequent the café, precisely because it was one of the only places in Tunisia where I felt some semblance of a gay culture. It was often lonely, living in a part of the world so vastly different from what I knew, and homosexual desire was something I could recognize as familiar and even welcome, even when I had no intention of having tourist sex. And in Tunisian’s repressive political climate, it seemed all the more important to feel connected to this particular side of myself. Even when my partner came to visit me in Tunis, we still found ourselves being propositioned – together. I got so tired of being hassled that, one day, at the Café de Paris, I turned to a particularly persistent young
man chanting “bonjour” at us and said, in English he undoubtedly did not understand, “Can you not see that we are having a conversation?” But immediately I felt embarrassed by my own reaction. I should simply have laughed off his annoying behavior. I was, after all, a visitor to his country, and I realize that, to a Tunisian, most Westerners seem the equivalent of millionaires. The young man
was probably to his mind simply doing his job. And I was at the Café de Paris and not a café in one of the large tourist hotels, where the waiters are more likely to discourage hustlers from hanging around without ordering a drink. I tried once to talk with my students about these men who See Action
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And the beat goes on ...
Some big club releases are coming your way By DJ Sparkplug Deborah Cox is back on the scene. Part one of a two part CD release is out. This is Deborah’s second big single release from her new album The Promise. Her song Beautiful U R is destined to be an anthem in 2009. The big remixes here are Yinon Yahel (who’s remixed Kristine W, Amuka, Suzanne Palmer), Gabi Newman (producer/DJ from Spain), Massimo Nocito (German producer better known as a member of Bass Bumpers) and Soul Seekerz. Whether you like Circuit, Electro, House or something downbeat, there is a mix for everyone on this single release.
Let‘s look at some other big single releases that are sure to be club hits. Carol Hahn and her great song I Can Stop The Rain is one. Europe has released the great hit by Larua Hildebrandt Boyshorts. Armin Van Burin has a great hit called Unforgivable with some really powerful female vocals. Something a little different is The Ian Carey Project’s Get Sharky. The StoneBridge remix is the best one to get for this hot track. Here’s a really hard to find Japanese import from none other than Cyndi Lauper. It’s called Girls Just Wanna Have Fun VS Set Your Heart. Basshunter has a cool song called I Miss You. Before you judge this too
quickly, you need to check out the Fonzerelli remix. Lady Gaga is on the scene with another hit called Eh Eh. Lastly, check out Cassie Davis Like It Loud. I guess you can describe her as Australia’s version of Pink. Well, that’s about it for hot CD single releases at this time. Don’t forget that if you’re looking a great new full length release, check out every gay man’s favorite DJ Wayne G! Move: Atlantis Dance 2009 is a really great set of tracks mixed by the master himself, Wayne G. It’s jam packed with hits like Kristine W Never, Bimbo Jones And I Try and Debby Holiday Joyful Sound. But it’s also packed with classics like Amber Sexual, Darren
Hayes Me Myself & I and Rosabel Featuring Debbie Jacobs Rock Don’t You Want My Love … but before you start thinking there’s nothing fresh, check this out… Wayne G Featuring Peyton Ur The Best Thing, Bimbo Jones Freeze, the anthem everyone is looking for: Manny Lehman Presents Oceania Body Rock, and the Razor & Guido mix of DJ DeMarko! Featuring Heather Leigh West Drop A House. It doesn’t get any hotter than this, guys. Disc one is titled Sunset and disc two is Peak Hour. That’s it for now. Tune in next month for some new great hits to keep you on beat and in tune with the hottest club music in the world!
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propositioned me virtually everywhere I went. (I learned eventually not to make eye contact with any man on the street, as it could be mistaken as an invitation.) Some of them laughed embarrassedly. Given the tendency of Tunisians to want to make the very best impression on Western visitors in particular—Tunisia is heavily dependent on tourist dollars – I should not have expected that they would share with me information on something that surely causes some of them a sense of shame. I was their teacher, someone whom they always treated with respect, calling me sir, wiping the dust from my chair before I sat down at my desk, giving me their seat on the tram from school. Given also that Tunisia is a police state, people are reluctant to discuss in public any topic considered too controversial, and there were always rumors that our classes were populated with government spies. It was foolish of me, a sign of the privilege I sometimes took for granted, to assume that a Tunisian would display his or her culture’s dirty laundry to a Western scholar in the context of a college classroom. One young woman, however, insisted that I would be subject to the same sexual advances, were I to visit any big city in the US. I didn’t know how to respond to her remarks. Yes, if I were in a particular neighborhood in, say, New York or San Francisco, I might be approached by a male prostitute. But in broad daylight, in a café, within earshot of the other customers? It doesn’t seem likely. While visiting the resort city of Sousse, I was approached, while walking along the beach one afternoon, by a boy who seemed no older than 14. Instead of simply ignoring him, this time, I scolded him (in French,) saying that I was old enough to be his father. I then asked him what other Tunisians would think of me—and him—had they seen us together sitting at a café. He apologized. Given that there is no such things as free speech in Tunisia, everyone watches and listens to everyone else discreetly but very carefully, and people are very conscious of interactions between Tunisians and Westerners in particular. Additionally, there is palpable sense that one does not want to behave shamefully in public. How one dresses, speaks and interacts with others is thus always a matter of public scrutiny, as one does not want to be perceived as having lost face. And Tunisians are very
proud of their heritage, as Tunisia’s history is truly multicultural. Berbers, Greeks, Carthaginians, Jews, Romans, Byzantine Christians, Arabs, Italians the French—all settled at various times in Tunisia. Tunisians are sometimes accused by other Arabs of thinking they are more European than the rest of the Islamic world. To be publicly humiliated in front of a Westerner, then, is particularly taboo. One of my colleagues at the university, now a grandfather, once confided in me that, in his youth and even young adulthood, he had in fact had sex with other men—even Jews, he exclaimed. (Jews have lived in Tunisia since the Babylonian diaspora, but the events of September 11, subsequent US actions in the Middle East, and the bombing of a synagogue in Jerba by Islamic extremists have led many Jews to leave the country. The ones who remain tend to keep a low profile, and many Tunisian Arabs lament the ways in which the recent actions of Israel have had a negative impact on an area like La Goulette, a seaside neighborhood once noted for its intermingling of Arabs, Jews and Italians.) But, afraid of where the conversation might lead, I never disclosed to him my gay identity. To my colleague, a beautiful body is a beautiful body, whether it belonged to a man or a woman, and availing one’s self of sensual pleasure with another human being was as natural as eating Tunisia’s succulent figs, oranges, dates and pomegranates. I had two Tunisian friends, however, who self-identified as gay. One had been educated in the US; the other was his sometime lover. Hichem, (not his real name,) a man who looks far younger than his 50 years, is married to a woman I believe is a lesbian, who is herself a famous Tunisian actress. (While Hichem confided in me many details of his sex life—often, hilarious stories about young men who claimed to be virgins but who seemed to not have any of the usual physical difficulties that generally accompany one’s “first time”—I was careful to respect his privacy.) His homosexuality, along with his antipathy for religion of any kind and his awareness of the many ironies of trying to be a university professor—someone who ideally promotes free inquiry and expression—in a police state, left him not exactly jaded, but at least someone who seemed world-weary from a lifetime of having to play “the emperor’s new clothes.” But at the same time, he was one of the kindest, funniest, most generous men I have ever known, someone who wanted nothing from me but my friendship. His sometime lover Nizar was also a good
friend, a sweet boy who wanted nothing more than a monogamous relationship with his wandering partner and who often joked with me in English. When the two of us took a walk down the Avenue, however, Nizar noticed the way people looked at us—as if I was paying for his company. Sometimes, vendors would even try, in Arabic, to enlist his aid in selling me something at a price far lower than what a non-tourist would pay. While I was living in Tunisia, I had a visit from a Parisian friend of mine. Jacques had no qualms about renting hustlers, and, as a result of his visit, I learned of another café on the Avenue, one even more active than the Café de Paris. I also learned that there are hotels that rent by the hour, where the management is fully aware of what is occurring. And at this café where Jacques met his rent boy, I saw what I would identify as the only visible signs of a gay identity: some young men conducting surveys about safer sex practices. Of course, safer sex is not simply a matter of concern for men that have sex with other men, but these young men “looked” gay to me in a way that no one else had, and it was clear that they were friends of some of the café’s customers. I was truly amazed that, as repressive as the Tunisian government is, and as in denial of its underground economies as most states are, apparently, someone in public health had authorized this survey. (Such a survey would never have been distributed, had it not been approved by someone in power.) Through Jacques, I also learned of a hammam that caters primarily to men looking for sex with other men. In Muslim cultures, where ritual cleanliness is practiced and there are strict rules related to personal hygiene, hammams or steam baths are both public bathing facilities and places for people of the same sex to relax and socialize. Located just inside the medina, this particular hammam was apparently an open secret tolerated by the Tunisian police, undoubtedly because it catered to tourists and most likely paid bribes. Jacques told me that, during his visit, one of the customers—a foreigner, but an Arab nonetheless—openly bragged of wanting sex with other men. Others, including the staff, were more discrete, offering massages. As Tunisians always wear a swimming suit or underwear at the hammam, I had a hard time imagining how or where the sex actually managed to take place. See Action
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One of my female Tunisian colleagues, someone to whom I had never come out, sent me an email recently. She had read an essay of mine on-line, a story I had written about a previous trip to Tunisia—one during which I was hustled by a Tunisian who left me both broken-hearted and several hundred dollars poorer. (www.riverwalkjournal.org/vol2iss5/ champagnetunis.html ) She wanted to tell me that she found my essay moving and that my being gay was not an issue for her. But she warned, “I also wanted to tell you to be careful to raise gay issues in Arab countries. We do have gays and lesbians just like in GLBT, from
“All 27 of the Fortune 500 companies based in Pennsylvania have these policies in place,” Kaskey said. He noted that states which have enacted comprehensive non-discrimination laws that include GLBT people, have been able to attract new businesses and retain workers. Glassman also said that efforts are underway to pass a new Hate Crimes bill in Pennsylvania that will also protect GLBT people. He added howCouples, from
to get married. I am devastated, but I take some solace in knowing we were able to enjoy the ultimate rite of love and commitment before she passed.” Now They met through mutual friends, really enjoyed each other’s company, and three years later traveled to Vermont to participate in a Civil Union Ceremony. “We were already committed to each other,” they said almost in unison. “We actually did it to show others how committed and serious we were about the relationship.” Both Laurie Finch and Janet Hanusik have been
any other society, but it’s a very closed circle of people and they do everything to hide it and keep it secret.” She was particularly concerned that, when I return for a visit, I not become a victim of violence, as foreign gays can be targeted. (Every once in a while you read in the French press of a tryst gone bad, usually involving a Westerner who is at first very generous with his money but eventually stops paying.) I was really touched by her willingness to discuss what to even a highly intelligent and educated woman must be a difficult matter, given the realities of Tunisian society. (While in Tunisia, we didn’t have any opportunity to socialize outside of school, as her husband
would not have approved. In fact, whenever I met my female students at a café, I always made sure that their parents had no qualms about their being seen in public with a Western man.) One of the most difficult things to covey to my friends here is the complexity of Tunisian culture. My trips to North Africa have gotten me to recognize that we cannot assume that our way of inhabiting our sexuality is shared by people of different cultures, and that it is not always necessary to conclude that “different” means either “worse” or “better.” Dr. John Champagne is Associate Professor of English at Penn State Erie.
ever that it may not be possible to get both bills through the legislature this session and that amending the Human Relations Act is the top priority. Glassman emphasized that the Human Relations Commission is committed to seeing that any legislative efforts in these areas be all inclusive, providing protection for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender individuals. Glassman, Kaskey and Andy Hoover of the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American
Civil Liberties Union, all urged those attending the meeting to contact their state legislators personally or by mail to urge them to support these measures. Direct contact is vital in securing support from these elected officials. The new legislative session is just underway in Harrisburg and new versions of the nondiscrimination bill have not yet been introduced in either the state House or Senate. However, when contacting state senators and representatives,
individuals should urge them to support of new versions of Senate Bill 761 and House Bill 1400 (the non-discrimination bills that were introduced in the last legislative session). If you do not know who your state legislators are, you may find out by going to the Equality Advocates website: www.equalitypa.org. Under the “Take Action” tab, click on “Locate Your Legislator” and type in your zip code. You will get a list of your elected representatives.
together for about 12 years now. “When I met Jan I knew we would be partners,” stated Laurie. Both came out later in life, but have found no major issues or prejudice along the way. Neither one felt they had a huge adjustment to living together as partners, nor did they with their own personal feelings about being lesbian. “It was simply who we were, and we just picked up and went on from there.” Communication is the key to the success of their long relationship, and they feel the biggest issue any couple faces. “Talk, talk, talk,” they advised, “if you talk about everything, there will be no
need to yell and fight about anything. We always check in with each other, and we discuss all of our major purchases, we respect each other.” Laurie and Janet have both begun to attend local political meetings in an attempt to learn how they can make a difference in Erie. It is a personal interest as well as a community one, and they are hoping to be a part of any changes that are made locally, if not nationally. “I never felt there was going to be much change in the Bush administration,” said Laurie, “but with Obama I feel like maybe in my lifetime, I might get to see some actual changes. The election is over,
but now the work begins, everyone just needs to do a little something.” And I agree. Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon could not have known the impact their lives would have on the GLBT community in the beginning of their advocacy years, and we are forever grateful because of them. Laurie and Jan are also hoping to make a difference. Making the decision to marry, and sharing their commitment with us sends just as powerful a message. As we all continue to work together, maybe one day they will be able to attend a ceremony right here in the same state where they both live and work.
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In your community Drenched Fur returns for fifth year of fun
As 2009 has begun, the Drenched Fur committee has come back together again planning the next installment of Erie’s Bear Run Weekend. This year’s event weekend is scheduled for Friday, April 3 through Sunday, April 5. The planning committee has some new things in the works including a new host hotel – the Quality Inn and Suites on I-90 – that is exclusively for Drenched Fur booking this year! Participants will be returning to Splash Lagoon Indoor Water Park Resort yet again at night like last year, thanks to the rave reviews and feedback received. In addition, there will be some afternoon tours around the Erie region on Saturday as well as a bar crawl on Friday night to Craze and The Zone. The planning committee will be updating the Drenched Fur website periodically with announcements and further information in the coming weeks. Since the launch of the on-line registration at the beginning of the year, Drenched Fur 5 received more than 100 registrations in the first month and booked more than 50% of the host hotel rooms. Those interested in more information may go to www.drenchedfur.com or contact Gary, the Drenched Fur coordinator, at gnsnyder@ drenchedfur.com or 814-384-0463 for details.
Annual Wine on the Lake event March 21
The fruits of the regions many wineries will be available for tasting and purchasing at this year’s Wine on the Lake event Saturday, March 21, at the Bayfront Convention Center. This year’s event will have two sessions. The afternoon session will run from 2-4:30 p.m. and the evening session will run from 6-9 p.m. At each session, you will be able to sample wines from more than 14 area wineries and see displays and products from a wide variety of area businesses and merchants. Tickets for the afternoon session are $20 each and for the evening session, $25 each. Each ticket gets you a beautifully etched wine glass and tasting rights at the various wineries represented. There is also a $10 “Designated Driver” ticket category which gives you admission to the event but does not include the wine glass or tasting privilages.
Tickets may be purchased at the WSEE-TV studios, all branches of the Erie Federal Credit Union, participating wineries or online at www.wineonthelake.com.
SafeNet plans second-annual Legal Conference
SafeNet and Protection From Abuse Coordinated Services, Inc. will be presenting the Second Annual Legal Conference entitled “Domestic Violence: The Change Process,” featuring nationally known author and lecturer Lundy Bancroft. This year’s conference will take place Wednesday, April 15, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Bel-Aire Hotel and Conference Center in Erie. Continuing education credits will be offered. For more information, call SafeNet at 4551774 or visit www.safeneterie.org.
‘Out in the Silence’ at Los Angeles Museum
Out in the Silence, the uplifting documentary about courageous local residents of Oil City confronting homophobia in their conservative small town, is nearly completed and its planned release on PBS television stations in Pennsylvania will be announced soon. But that’s not all that is being planned by Joe Wilson and Dean Hamer, the film’s producers. Out in the Silence will be featured in a Sundance-sponsored work-in-progress screening at the Hammer Museum of Arts and Culture in Los Angeles on May 19. The Sundance Documentary Film Program screenings provides a rare “behind-thescenes” glimpse into the creative process with filmmakers, film subjects and thought leaders on the social issues addressed in the films. “We’ve got big plans for the accompanying outreach, education and social action campaign, aimed at expanding public awareness about the challenges GLBT people face in rural and small town America and promoting fairness and equality for all,” Wilson and Hammer said. Watch The Community Voice for more updates on Out in the Silence.
Equality advocates names new executive director Equality Advocates Pennsylvania has
announced the appointment of Lynn Zeitlin, Esq. as Executive Director. Zeitlin was chosen by the Board of Directors after an extensive national search. She comes to Equality Advocates after a distinguished career as a corporate and real estate lawyer and passionate activist. She brings her experience of 30 years as a successful lawyer coupled with an equally impressive array of work in the Philadelphia nonprofit and community relations community. Zeitlin has worked tirelessly for such organizations as the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, Anti-Defamation League, the Schuylkill Regatta, Philadelphia Bar Association and Equality Forum. In addition, she previously served Equality Advocates Pennsylvania as a Board Member and Executive Committee member. Zeitlin brings a unique set of skills in the realm of fund raising, political advocacy, management, financial planning and volunteer outreach. As a detailed-oriented team leader she has created positive change through her collaborative approach and goal oriented focus. “We are thrilled to have someone of Lynn’s caliber and experience,” stated Equality Advocates Pennsylvania Board President Virginia Gutierrez. “Lynn brings a wealth of experience, a visionary leadership style and a passion for equal rights. The Board is looking forward to partnering with Lynn to move the organization forward.” Zeitlin’s appointment was effective Feb. 9. She will serve as the organization’s third Executive Director and lead the organization during an important period of change both internally and externally. “I am honored and excited to serve as the Executive Director of Equality Advocates Pennsylvania. I know I have big shoes to fill. These are challenging times for nonprofits and I look forward to tackling the challenges head on,” she said.
PFLAG offering scholarships for students
If you are a graduating high school senior entering higher education for the first time in 2009 and self-identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender (GLBT) or a straight ally, you may be able to apply for a scholarship See Community
National News Notes . . .
Court to hear Proposition 8 arguments March 5 The legal showdown over Proposition 8 will begin March 5 when the California Supreme Court hears arguments in the case. This should mean that the court will render a decision on the future of same-sex nuptials across the state before summer. In a prepared statement, the high court set three hours of arguments for its calendar in San Francisco, setting the stage for the justices to consider a series of legal challenges to voter-approved Proposition 8. Civil rights groups and a number of cities and counties, led by San Francisco and Santa Clara County, sued after the November election, arguing that the ballot initiative is invalid and should be struck down. By a 52 to 48 percent vote, Proposition 8 restored the ban on gay marriage, after the state Supreme Court last year found the prior law outlawing same-sex marriage unconstitutional. The various lawsuits argue that the ballot measure was an improper method of amending the California constitution, and deprives same-sex couples of the right to marry established in the May 2008 Supreme Court ruling. California Attorney General Jerry Brown, is also arguing that Proposition 8 should be struck down because it erased an existing constitutional right. The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case last year, and will decide not only the legality of Proposition 8, but also the fate of thousands of same-sex couples who married before voters approved the measure. The justices have 90 days from the March 5 hearing to decide the case. Proposition 8 supporters are being represented by Kenneth Starr, the conservative Pepperdine University law school dean and special prosecutor in the impeachment trial of former President Bill Clinton.
Openly gay leader takes charge of Iceland The government of Iceland has sworn in its first female prime minister who also appears to be the modern world’s first openly gay head of government. The new prime minister, Johanna Sigurdardottir, 66, will lead a caretaker coalition government of Iceland’s Social Democrats and its Left-Green Movement for three months until a new election is held in April. Sigurdardottir is a political veteran who has served for long periods as social affairs minister. Iceland’s president formally asked Sigurdardottir to take over leadership after the country’s conservative-led government collapsed amid financial and economic turmoil in the small country. In a matter of weeks after the financial crisis hit, unemployment soared to 10 percent, housing prices fell sharply, thousands of homeowners began having mortgage problems and Iceland’s currency plunged in value. Sigurdardottir comes to the prime minister’s job with a formidable reputation. As social affairs minister in several governments since 1987, she is credited with pushing through policies that widened housing opportunities for Iceland’s poor and strengthened the social welfare system. She has said she will use her powers as prime minister to push for debt relief for the most vulnerable Icelanders. Although the new prime minister’s rise has drawn widespread attention on Web sites for gay men and lesbians outside Iceland, her partnership with another woman is considered unremarkable at home. Iceland approved civil partnerships for gay and lesbian couples in 1996, one of the first countries to do so. Economy to blame for Bookstore closing The Oscar Wilde Bookshop in New York City’s Greenwich
Village, believed to be the oldest gay and lesbian bookstore in the country, will close March 29. Its owner cited economic troubles. The store opened in 1967 on Mercer Street and later moved to 15 Christopher Street. It occupies a storefront not much bigger than a typical Manhattan studio apartment and over the years, became a popular place for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities. N.Y. officials seek answers over arrests Officials in New York City are seeking answers over the recent sharp increase in the number of gay men arrested for prostitution at adult video stores in Manhattan. Anger is building against the city’s police department in the wake of these arrests and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, herself a lesbian, has joined in the outcry. Quinn said she is working with the mayor’s office and the police department to set up a meeting that will include gay community groups, to address the issue. The arrests have been documented by Duncan Osborne of the Gay City News over the last several months. According to the newspaper, police are allegedly using handsome young undercover officers to cruise middle-aged gay men, offering to go home with them for consensual sex. As they leave the store together, the cop offers to pay the man for the sex, confusing the victims who can’t imagine why the younger man would make such a proposal. Then, as they walk out of the store, the victim, despite never having agreed to any exchange of money, is surrounded by undercover cops, handcuffed and charged with prostitution. Gay activists and civil libertarians see the arrests as part of a continuing effort to shut down pornography operations in the
city and a tendency by the police department to criminalize gay sexual behavior. New Jersey allows gay couple to divorce A New Jersey court has granted a divorce to a gay couple married in Canada, even though state law doesn’t allow gay marriages. La Kia Hammond married a woman in Canada in 2004 but when Hammond wanted a divorce, she didn’t meet the two-year residency requirement for Canadian divorces. She was living in New Jersey, and her partner did not contest the divorce. Hammond has been diagnosed with a terminal form of muscular dystrophy and needed to get a divorce quickly so she could return to Canada and marry a woman who would care for her and her daughter. Hammond sought a divorce in New Jersey, where she qualifies under the residency requirements, and Mercer County Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson ruled that she is entitled to one. Even though New Jersey does not permit same-sex marriages (the state does permit civil unions), principles of comity require state courts to recognize such unions granted in other states or countries, at least for the narrow purpose of allowing them to be dissolved. The state Attorney General’s office argued that because New Jersey has a civil-union law, which allows for dissolutions, Hammond should be granted such a dissolution rather than a divorce. But the judge disagreed, saying that argument undermines New Jersey’s long-established principle of recognizing marriages from other states and countries as long as they aren’t tainted by incest, polygamy or other practices that violate public policy in New Jersey.
The Community Voice
from PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays). The national PFLAG organization has available three $5,000 scholarships, three $2,500 scholarships and up to ten $1,000 scholarships to students who demonstrate an interest in service to the GLBT community and are applying to an accredited higher education institution. The application process includes completing the application form, writing a one-page essay, providing a high school transcript, one reference and a completed release form. Interested students may apply online at www.pflag.org and click on “PFLAG National Scholarships.” All completed applications must be submitted or postmarked by March 13.
Add your voice to The Community Voice
The Community Voice, the Erie region’s
new GLBT monthly newsletter, is always looking for new volunteers and writers to help the publication serve the needs of the community. If you would be interested in helping with photography, writing articles or soliciting advertising for the publication, we are anxious to hear from you. You may email us at email@example.com or call us toll free at (866) 399-3169. We welcome you input and assistance. The Community Voice is published by Erie Gay Pride, Inc. in cooperation with four29 media and all advertising proceeds go to support GLBT community efforts.
Women’s choir to perform at Edinboro March 31
The Renaissance City Women’s Choir will bring their talents to Edinboro University Tuesday, March 31, beginning at 8 p.m. in the Alexander Music Center on the university’s campus.
Established in 1995, the Pittsburgh-area choir promotes itself as “lesbians creating change through the power of music.” Its membership includes women from many professions, avocations and musical backgrounds. Susan R. Haugh was the founding director of the RCWC and served as the artistic director until January, 2006. An dres Cladera assumed the role of RCWC artistic director in August 2006. There have been many highlights in the choir’s history. In 1999, the women recorded their first studio CD. They premiered I Look Like a Girl, the first commissioned composition by Susan R. Haugh in 2002. Although the group’s major concerts get most of the publicity, the choir is just as passionate about their performances at community events such as the March 31 concert at Edinboro, which is free and open to the public.
Safe Horizons 814.438.2675
Unmasking the Faces
www.UnmaskingtheFacesofDomesticViolence.com A Collaborative Project Sponsored by United Way Women in Action
The Community Voice
One of the interesting features of Hurry Hill Farm is the new maple orchard that Woods and her family began planting in 1998. Each year, more and more sugar maple and black maple trees have been added to the orchard in the interest of sustainable agriculture. Since it takes 20-30 years before maple trees are ready to tap, Woods notes that this new orchard is for future generations. The sugaring process is truly one of nature’s wonders. The maple tree is really a natural sugar factory. Photosynthesis is the process by which chlorophyll and sunlight work within a tree’s leaves to make sugar from carbon dioxide and water. This high-energy sugar feeds the tree while it grows in the spring and summer. The leftover sap in the fall is sent to the sapwood in the tree roots and tree trunk to be stored for the winter. Just before spring, the frozen sap thaws out and “runs” up and down and around the tree to feed the buds. This is the time when the trees are tapped. When the leaves open, photosynthesis begins again. Each year, the placement of the taphole is adjusted. Therefore, tapping hardly fazes a growing, productive tree. Tapholes heal over as if they were a scratch. Sugar maples can live upwards to 400 years. “When we tap a tree, a mere 10% of the tree’s sap goes into our sap buckets,” Woods explains. She added that Hurry Hill uses a gas powered “tapper” and metal buckets with lids, a tractor and wagon to gather sap and a sugarhouse in which to boil sap down. Sugaring is both science and old fashioned art. During
the six-week season, the sap flow takes place for only 10 to 20 days and is irregular, often with up to a third of the season’s take coming through in a single day. Maple sap, which is about 98% water, is condensed into maple syrup through the evaporation process. It takes from 40-50 gallons of sap to yield one gallon of maple syrup. Early syrup runs and runs after a cold spell are light amber in color and with a delicate flavor. Generally the color darkens and the taste becomes more robust as the season progresses. The small sugarhouse at Hurry Hill Farm was built in 1930. A larger one was added in 1958. As the sap is collected from the trees, it is filtered and placed in holding tanks. The tanks feed the sap into the wood-fired evaporators in the sugarhouse for the boiling process. The sap travels through the flue pan mazes and then into the syrup finishing pan where it is tested for the proper density using a hydrometer and graded for proper labeling. While maple syrup is the principal item produced, other products include maple cream, maple mustard, maple peanuts and maple crumb, to name a few. Of course, you can purchase these items right on the farm One of the new features this year at Hurry Hill Farm is a maple museum. According to Woods, the museum offers “table to tree” displays that include sugaring antiques, artists’ exhibits and other artifacts. Perhaps the most significant item on display is the John Newbery Medal won by author Virginia Sorensen for her children’s book, Miracle on Maple Hill, which she wrote while living in Edinboro. Written in 1957, Miracle on
The sugarhouse at Hurry Hill Farm in Edinboro offers visitors an opportunity to see maple syrup made the old fashioned way with a wood fire. Maple Hill is “warm and real… packed with incident, country magic, family love and people to remember; it has substance and spiritual worth,” wrote the New York Times Book Review. It’s no wonder it won the Newbery Medal “for the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.” The book was also a huge influence on Janet Woods and her deep desire to carry on the centuries-old tradition of maple sugaring. Virginia Sorensen’s son gave Woods the medal on permanent loan for her museum because, in his words, “I want you to have it – you are honoring my mother and her work.” Housing Sorensen’s Newbery Medal is not the only honor Woods and Hurry Hill
Farm can claim. At the 2009 Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg, Janet Woods and Hurry Hill Farm brought home seven first-place awards and seven other awards for maple syrup products. For Janet Woods, sugaring is more than just a hobby. “It is all about making memories for people,” she says. She also does it for her children so they have some agricultural connection to the land where they live. “It is a great time of the year for families to enjoy an activity unique to our area and one they will talk about for years to come.” For more information about the March 14-15 Taste and Tour Weekend, visit the website of the Northwest Pennsylvania Maple Association: www.pamaple.org.
JOHN E. COOPER, ESQ.
Attorney at Law 305 French Street Erie, PA 16501 SSSSS Phone: (814) 455-3436 Fax: (814) 455-2680 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Toll Free: 866-803-0490
The Community Voice
Calendar of events
St. Patrick’s Day
Area events March 3 vDavid Archuleta in concert at Club Infinity, 8166 Main St., Williamsville, NY, 7 p.m. Tickets $25, call (716) 565-0110 or go to www.clubinfinitylive.com. vCeltic Women – Isle of Hope in concert at the Benedum Center for the Performing Arts, Pittsburgh, 7:30 p.m. Call (412) 456-6666 for ticket information. Also March 4. March 5 v Joan Baez in concert, Byham Theater, 101 Sixth St., Pittsburgh, 8 p.m. Call (412) 456-6666 for ticket information. March 6 vG2H2 (Gay Guy/Girl Happy Hour), 6-8 p.m. Sheraton Bayfront Hotel Lobby Bar, Erie. vCheech & Chong: Light Up America at the Benedum Center for the Performing Arts, Pittsburgh, 8 p.m. Call (412) 456-6666 for ticket information. March 7 vLarry the Cable Guy live at Shea’s Performing Arts Center, Buffalo, 8 p.m. Tickets available through Ticketmaster. March 9 vPFLAG of Erie and Crawford County, 7 p.m., Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Erie, 7180 Perry
Highway, Erie. Call (814) 454-1392 or email: pflag.erie. email@example.com. March 14 vBallet Boyz at the Byham Theater, 101 Sixth St., Pittsburgh, 8 p.m. Call (412) 456-6666 for ticket information. March 17 vThe Wizard of Oz live at Shea’s Performing Arts Center, Buffalo, 7:30 p.m. Tickets available through Ticketmaster. March 19 vMarch 19-22 – Bernadette Peters in concert with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Heinz Hall, Pittsburgh, 7:30 p.m. (March 19), 8 p.m. (March 20-21), 2:30 p.m. (March 22). Call (412) 392-4900 for ticket information. vMarch 19-29 – Cleveland International Film Festival, Tower City Cinemas. A wide variety of films are being shown including GLBT films as part of 10% Cinema. Go to www.clevelandfilm.org or call (216) 623-3456 for information. March 20 vMarch 20-22 – Where the Good Songs Go presented by the Buffalo Gay Men’s Chorus, 8 p.m. March 20, Unitarian Universalist Church, 695 Elmwood Ave., Buf-
falo; 8 p.m. March 21, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 1080 Main St., Buffalo; 4 p.m. March 22, Daemen College, 4380 Main St., Amherst. Call (716) 883-1277 or go to www.buffalogaymenschorus.org for information. vThrough March 21 – Men in Suits, 8 p.m. at The Directors Circle Theater in Erie. If you miss the Sopranos, you’ll love this fast-paced “Mafia” comedy directed by Caryl Unseld. Call 451-1153 for specific dates and ticket information. March 25 vSlumdog Millionaire, the Academy Award-nominated film about an impoverished Indian teen who becomes a contestant on the Hindi version of “Who Wants to be A Millionaire?” Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center at Mercyhurst College, Erie, 2:15 p.m. and 8 p.m. March 26 vThrough April 5 – The Spitfire Grill at the Erie Playhouse. Musical adaptation of the movie. Call (814) 454-2852 for ticket information and performance dates/times or go to www.erieplayhouse.org. March 31 vCeltic Thunder, contemporary Celtic music and dance, Shea’s Performing Arts Center, Buffalo, 7:30 p.m. Tickets available through Ticketmaster.
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