Photo by Adam Carpenter, photo illustration by Mike Ritter
Religious freedom? LGBT activists fight against anti-gay bills. Page 13
Love revolution Best Bets Womenâ€™s conference offers All the gay events fit to print. intimacy, healing. Page 14 Pages 22-24
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IN THIS ISSUE FEATURED STORY
6 | Important documents to have when not married. 7 | How to file taxes after end of DOMA. Photo by DyanaBagby
12 | Marriage equality fight comes south. 13 | Anti-gay bill still alive in Georgia General Assembly.
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15 | Create Love conference comes to Decatur. 16 | Dorothy Gallaway a pioneer in LGBT healthcare.
Adam Carpenter, Melissa Carter, Jim Farmer, Vandy Beth Glenn Shannon Hames, Steve Warren, Ryan Lee, Tina Tian
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12 | 'SOUTHERNERS FOR FREEDOM TO MARRY' KICKS OFF
OUTSPOKEN “We must be entirely clear about this: the history of people is littered with attempts to legislate against love or marriage across class, caste, and race. But there is no scientific basis or genetic rationale for love. There is only the grace of God. There is no scientific justification for prejudice and discrimination, ever. And nor is there any moral justification. Nazi Germany and apartheid South Africa, among others, attest to these facts.” — Archbishop Desmond Tutu condemning Uganda’s law against homosexuality. (Feb. 23, The Guardian)
18 | Pink Martini comes to Atlanta with the von Trapps. 19 | Food: Where to dine on your tax return dime. 21 | Theater: Tony winner Audra McDonald to sing with Atlanta Symphony. 25 | Books: What is a real marriage? 22-24 | Calendar
26 | That’s What She Said: Melissa Carter reflects on the short life of a memorable teen. 26 | Sometimes ‘Y’: Ryan Lee says MARTA ‘Ride with Respect’ has no respect.
FRIENDS & FOES IN THEIR OWN WORDS
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“We don’t need you to explain anything about ‘what these pieces of legislation really mean.’ We actually read them. Did you?” — Posting on the Facebook page of Pallookaville in Avondale Estates. Ga., along with the above sign with a clear message. (Feb. 25, Decaturish.com)
THE GEORGIA VOICE
“If I were attorney general in Kansas in 1953, I would not have defended a Kansas statute that put in place separatebut-equal facilities.” — U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in an interview in which he said state attorneys general are not obligated to defend samesex-marriage bans if they believe they are
“We are losing our decency as a nation. Imagine your son being forced to shower with a gay man. That’s a horrifying prospect for every mom in the country. What in the world has this nation come to? If the NFL has no morals and no values, then Congress must find values for it.” Lobbyist Jack Burkman in a statement of his plans to introduce a bill to ban gay men players from the NFL. (Feb. 24, The Hill)
GA VOICE | 5
No wedding license? No problem — but you can still protect your family LGBT couples use key documents to provide legal protections for families By PATRICK SAUNDERS So maybe marriage isn’t for you and your partner, at least not right now. Maybe you’re waiting until Georgia legalizes same-sex-marriage so there’s less confusion. Maybe the ﬁnancial negatives outweigh the positives. Or maybe you’re just not the marrying types. Either way, the experts highly recommend getting a set of documents that will cover you and your partner for almost any of life’s little curveballs.
A BLUEPRINT FOR BREAKUP?
Financial adviser Allen Shpigel is one of only hundreds of advisers to earn the ADPA designation — Accredited Domestic Partnership Adviser. “I got that last year because we’d seen increased numbers of domestic partners that we were helping,” he says. “I got it before the whole DOMA situation, so were really studying and seriously planning for this.” Needless to say, Shpigel is a huge proponent of getting a domestic partnership agreement, which outlines in detail the contractual legal rights and responsibilities of each partner in the relationship. Shpigel recommends getting two attorneys, one to represent each partner, and that you cover all ﬁnancial scenarios that could arise in the relationship. “Each partner discloses all ﬁnancial information they have from investment accounts, cash, how much debt they have, their credit score, everything,” he says. “They bring up scenarios and say, ‘If we purchase a home, how will it be titled? If we have children, who will work and who will take care of the child?’ Child support, alimony, everything.” The attorneys compile the documents and make sure it’s agreeable on all sides before everyone signs. However, many couples are hesitant to ﬁle a domestic partnership agreement due to it being compared to another document with a poison name: the prenup. “I traditionally have thought of that as a blueprint for a breakup and have been against it for that reason,” says Nathan Miller, 36, who has been with his partner Allen Hedrick, 47, for four years. “You see prenups for celebrity couples and it just always seems like something where
they’re already planning for a breakup,” he says. But Miller says he’s coming around to the idea, partly because he’s a child of divorced parents and says he doesn’t want to repeat that cycle. Shpigel continues to be an advocate for the domestic partnership agreement, mainly because he’s seen the horror stories. “There was a couple who were together for 17 years and they did not have this document and lost $1.5 million in the separation,” he says. He offers up another situation where a couple that had been together for three years but one of the partners had a joint real estate piece with his ex-partner. “Even though he’s not in the relationship, he’s still paying part of the mortgage because they didn’t have any documents ahead of time describing what would happen if they broke up,” Shpigel says. Now his client is suing his ex-partner for not taking over the entire mortgage even though his ex-partner is still living in the same house. “If they had the DPA, all of this could have been avoided,” Shpigel says. He understands why people aren’t so receptive to ﬁling a domestic partnership agreement, just as many people are opposed to prenuptial agreements. “But it will really help you later on. Or they just don’t think they’ll separate, and the other reason is the money it takes to hire an attorney and put legal documents together,” Shpigel says. “But it can save you thousands if not millions, depending on your level of assets, in the future.”
‘WE’VE BEEN MEANING TO GET AROUND TO IT’
Certiﬁed tax professional Lynn Pasqualetti and her partner have been together for 30 years, so they know how to do everything possible to protect themselves without the beneﬁt of being legally married. Despite the option to do so, they’re holding off. “We’re waiting to see what Georgia’s going to do just because of the complexity of it,” Pasqualetti says. “But I love the idea of being able to do it.”
However, they take a very pragmatic approach to it. She says it would probably beneﬁt them to get married, speciﬁcally for Social Security transfer of beneﬁts upon death. But their children are grown so they have no dependent children. “We did everything because we couldn’t get married, including cross-adopting our children,” she says. “There are just too many unknowns.” Pasqualetti recommends that you have a healthcare directive (or living will) as well, which specify what actions should be taken for you or your partner’s health should either no longer be able to make your own decisions because of illness or incapacity. “So if you have ﬁnancial or medical issues, the person you love and live with can make those decisions with or for you,” she says. Stacey L’Hoste and her longtime partner got a civil union in Hawaii in 1999 and went to an attorney in
2004 to get a power of attorney over healthcare and power of attorney over their ﬁnances. “If something happened to one of us health-wise, we didn’t want the hospital to say that one of us couldn’t come in since we’re not legally married, that that’s only for family,” she says. “So the power of attorney over healthcare gives her the right to come and make the decisions when to pull the plug,” L’Hoste says. “And if either of us is incapacitated for ﬁnancial reasons, the other would be able to make those decisions. It’s to protect our rights.” It’s something Miller and his partner have been lagging behind on. “We’ve been meaning to get around to it. I understand that it’s important,” he says. “We do have each other listed as beneﬁciaries on our 401Ks. We haven’t done the healthcare power of attorney, and we need to do wills. We’re slow getting around to it. That is scary, especially because I travel for work all the time.”
6 | GA VOICE
Living & loving in a postDOMA, pre-equality state LGBT couples navigate confusing tax season, other ﬁnancial issues By PATRICK SAUNDERS The historic striking down of the a major portion of the Defense of Marriage Act by the U.S. Supreme Court last June led to elation for the LGBT community and allies across the country. But as 2013 turned into 2014, a new set of complicated tax situations and vital ﬁnancial questions arose for LGBT couples as the chalk outline of DOMA faded. “It is a whole new ballgame,” says Lynn Pasqualleti, managing partner of HLM Financial Group. Pasqualetti has nearly 30 years of experience as a tax advisor with a deep knowledge of the ﬁnancial situations of LGBT couples. She is also in a longterm lesbian relationship. She and her partner and countless other couples are in the midst of this whole new ballgame as April 15 approaches and ﬁnancial decisions that could have a lifelong impact begin to surface.
LIVING IN ‘LIMBO’
Nathan Miller, 36, and Allen Hedrick, 47, have been together for four years and decided they would only get married if it became legal in Georgia, or whichever state they live in in the future. Miller says that if you’re married in another state but not your home state, “you’re kind of half-married, in limbo.” However, that doesn’t mean the extinction of DOMA didn’t have an effect on their ﬁnancial situation. “Prior to DOMA being struck down, that was the justiﬁcation that my company used for not providing insurance to employees’ spouses,” Miller says. Miller’s company is American and Hed-
Stacey L’Hoste married her wife in Provincetown in 2011, but this is the first year they’re filing as married filing jointly. (Photo by Patrick Saunders)
rick’s is European, so before last June, Hedrick’s company could have insured Miller if he lost his job, but Miller’s wouldn’t have insured Hedrick’s if the same happened. Now they’re covered either way. Married LGBT couples do still have the option to ﬁle separately, but that comes with many penalties. For example, married lower income people who ﬁle separate will lose the earned income credit. That’s one on a laundry list of beneﬁts a taxpayer could lose if they ﬁled as married ﬁling separately: tuition and fees deduction, student loan interest, education savings bond interest ex-
clusion, Lifetime Learning Credit, American Opportunity Credit and others. But what if you’re married and decide to ﬁle a married ﬁling joint return in Georgia? Take a deep breath.
‘I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR THIS MY ENTIRE LIFE’
Same-sex couples who marry legally in another state, but reside in a state like Georgia where same-sex-marriage is illegal, face an unprecedented set of circumstances. If a married same-sex couple (“married” being deﬁned as having been married in
one of the states where same-sex-marriage is legal), ﬁle their taxes jointly, they need to know that they are each taking on everything in that return equally and solely. Married couples ﬁling jointly would also be co-mingling their assets — so if your partner has any debts or credit issues, you take those on jointly. If you’re legally married, your marriage is recognized on a federal level — but not in the state of Georgia’s eyes, thanks to the 2004 same-sex-marriage ban. So if you decide to ﬁle jointly, you couple up for the federal return, then have to “un-
GA VOICE | 7
couple” for the state return, since the very ﬁrst thing the state return starts ‘HOW DO WE VIEW MONEY?’ with is your federal adjusted gross income. So you end up having to do two Allen Shpigel was surprised that same-sex couples haven’t rushed into getting separate federal returns after you do your joint federal return. Then you married quicker since a major portion of DOMA was struck down. merge them and do your state returns. “What people are doing now is more ﬁnancial planning, asset restructuring, “So in essence,” Pasqualetti says, “you’re doing ﬁve tax returns.” estate planning, but they’re not formalizing their relationship,” says the ﬁnancial Stacey L’Hoste, 44, and her wife of 16 years got a civil union in Hawaii advisor with Ameriprise Financial Services. “It’s almost like they don’t want to do in 1999 and were legally married in Provincetown in 2011. Since DOMA the legal part.” was struck down, this is the ﬁrst year they will be ﬁling married ﬁling Shpigel cites the case of two of his male clients who have been together for 47 jointly. years but are not getting married just yet. “It’s deﬁnitely more complicated,” L’Hoste says. “For several reasons: their asset level does not require substantial restructurBefore, they each ﬁled as single and were able to do their taxes online ing based on their legal status, so they’ll just try to handle it in other ways,” he with Turbo Tax. But in order to ﬁle all the necessary federal and state resays. turns, they purchased the full Turbo Tax software. There’s also the age factor. There are a variety of other factors that go into the decision “With older couples in their late 60’s or early 70’s, some are just of whether to ﬁle jointly or separately, including income level, set in their ways,” he says. “As long as it doesn’t have a huge impact When are individuals of the same number of dependents if any, if either partner has education on their overall tax and estate plan, they don’t want to rock the boat.” sex lawfully married for federal tax expenses. It’s something that a tax professional would need to Shpigel advises going over your speciﬁc situation with a ﬁnancial purposes? evaluate before rendering advice. planner and reviewing the pros and cons of formalizing and legalFor federal tax purposes, the IRS recogFor example, if one partner is in a high income taxpayer izing the relationship in the process. nizes married same-sex couples as those ($100,000 and more) and the other is a low income taxpayer A “huge” pro in Shpigel’s eyes is the estate tax exemption, which who were validly married in a state or country (less than $36,000), ﬁling a joint federal return is usually adwas used to spur United States v. Windsor, the case that ultimately where same-sex marriage is legal, even if the vantageous. But if you’re both high income taxpayers? led to the Supreme Court knocking out Section 3 of DOMA. couple does not live in that state or country. “The tax burden is going to kill them,” Pasqualetti “You don’t have to worry about one spouse’s estate being says. taxed to the other partner if you’re married,” he says. “That’s Can same-sex spouses file federal tax returns using a It’s a quandary that is leaving same-sex couples to what pushed things over the edge to make changes.” married filing jointly or married filing separately status? ponder a most decidedly unromantic question: how There are also marriage beneﬁts relating to charitable Yes. For tax year 2013 and going forward, same-sex spouses much money are you willing to shell out just to say donations, social security beneﬁts, pension beneﬁts, retiregenerally must file using a married filing separately or jointly you’re married? ment account beneﬁts and more. filing status. For tax year 2012 and all prior years, same-sex “You’re not supposed to get married for tax purposThe key is to sit down and talk about your ﬁnances, Shpispouses who file an original tax return on or after Sept. 16, 2013, es,” Pasqualetti says, “And you’re not supposed to not gel says. generally must file using a married filing separately or jointly filget married for tax purposes.” “A lot of people are embarrassed or don’t want to talk ing status. Pasqualetti realizes that some clients consider about it, especially at the beginning of a relationit priceless. ship,” he says. “You should talk about ‘How do we view Can same-sex spouses file federal tax returns retroactively? “I had a doctor come in the other day that said, money? How do we view life? How do we view raising Yes. For tax year 2012, same-sex spouses who filed their tax return before ‘I don’t care how much it costs me, I’ve been waitkids?’” Sept. 16, 2013, may choose to amend their federal tax returns to file using ing for this for my entire life. It’s worth it to me.’ married filing separately or jointly filing status. For tax years 2011 and earlier, A lot of it is an emotional decision for people,” she same-sex spouses who filed their tax returns timely may choose to amend ‘‘THEY’RE MISSING OUT’ says. their federal tax returns to file using married filing separately or jointly filing In a sea of so many scenarios and situations, one L’Hoste and her wife ended up paying out a lot status provided the period of limitations for amending the return has not thing is certain — the landscape has changed since more when they ﬁled jointly. expired. A taxpayer generally may file a claim for refund for three years from DOMA was struck down. But same-sex couples will “However, having the right and to be recogthe date the return was filed or two years from the date the tax was paid, have to wait for Georgia to catch up with history and nized as a married couple is worth it,” whichever is later. legalize our relationships for the confusion she says. “So it’s good and it’s bad. For to clear up. If same-sex spouses (who file usCan a taxpayer and his or her same-sex the ﬁrst time in my life I’m ﬁling as “We’re in limbo and we just have to wait spouse file a joint return if they were mar- ing the married filing separately status) married, but it stinks because we’re payfor it to shake out,” Pasqualetti says. “All I ried in a state that recognizes same-sex have a child, which parent may claim the ing more taxes.” can say is, Edie Windsor really is my hero. marriages but they live in a state that does child as a dependent? Pasqualetti acknowledges that the For someone of that age bracket to take that not recognize their marriage? idea of getting married is exciting and on is just amazing.” If same-sex spouses fi le using the marYes. that there are ﬁnancial beneﬁts to getNathan Miller highly recommends that ried filing separate status, either parent, but not ting married. For example, if you have couples talk to a ﬁnancial advisor. Can a taxpayer’s same-sex spouse be a both, may claim a dependency deduction for a child and one of the two in the couple “I think that having someone there as a the qualifying child. If both parents claim a dependependent of the taxpayer? passes away, the child will get survithird party makes those conversations a dency deduction on their income tax returns, the No. vor beneﬁts as well as the spouse’s lot easier,” he says. “I’m a banker and IRS will treat the child as the qualifying child of the parCan a same-sex spouse file using head of ent with whom the child resides for the longer period of beneﬁts in Social Security. If could do all of that stuff, but having household filing status? you’re married for 10 years or someone there to facilitate those distime If the child resides with each parent for the same No. However, a married taxpayer may be considered amount of time, the IRS will treat the child as the qualifying longer and you divorce, there cussions is helpful. It’s kind of like unmarried and may use the head-of-household filing sta- child of the parent with the higher adjusted gross income. is the option of drawing Social having your personal trainer. They tus if the taxpayer lives apart from his or her spouse for the Security on that spouse’s inare there to watch and check up on If a taxpayer adopts the child of his or her samelast 6 months of the taxable year and provides more than come instead of your own. If us — we might get off the rails you have a government half the cost of maintaining a household that is the princi- sex spouse as a second parent or co-parent, may the if we didn’t have that.” pension plan, it can pal place of residence of the taxpayer’s dependent child for taxpayer (“adopting parent”) claim the adoption And as a result of this credit for the qualifying adoption expenses he or she only go to your spouse more than half of the year. whole new way of doing pays or incurs to adopt the child? upon your death — if things for her and her Can a taxpayer who is married to a perNo. A taxpayer may not claim an adoption credit for you weren’t married, wife, L’Hoste has realized son of the same sex claim the standard expenses incurred in adopting the child of the taxit would go back into something else. deduction if the taxpayer’s spouse payer’s spouse. the company’s coffers. “The state of Georgia itemized deductions? But she is advising her is missing out on tax return Source: IRS No. clients not to rush into it. “Let’s revenue, because look how many consult ﬁrst. Do the math, then more people would pay more taxes if base your decision on what you know, they acknowledged same-sex-marriage in not what you don’t know,” she says. Georgia? They’re missing out,” she says.
12 | GA VOICE
‘Time for marriage for all Georgians’ Atlanta Mayor kicks oﬀ Southerners for Freedom to Marry campaign
has publicly stated he will not defend the ban. In Kentucky, U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II ruled that the state must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, striking down a portion of the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex-marriage approved by voters in 2004. The ruling, which also came this month, came after four gay and lesbian couples sued the state to recognize their legal marriages from other states.
By DYANA BAGBY Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said today he is speaking with former colleagues in the Georgia legislature to work on a bill that would recognize the legal marriages of gay couples who tied the knot in other states and moved back to their home state where they continue to face discrimination. Reed spoke Feb. 24 at the kick-off of a new campaign, Southerners for the Freedom to Marry, held at the Phillip Rush Center with the national group Freedom to Marry as well as Georgia Equality. A video of U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) speaking about his support for marriage equality was also screened at the press conference. Reed was greeted with a standing ovation and loud applause when he stood to speak, a large banner proclaiming “Southerners for the Freedom to Marry” hanging from the wall behind him. He acknowledged Phillip Rush, who the venue is named after, saying it was with Rush that he had one of his most important conversations with LGBT people before his ﬁrst run for mayor in 2009. “This is an important community space. It is ﬁtting we are here today for this signiﬁcant step forward on the conversation about marriage equality,” Reed said. “I’m prepared to wear as many hats as it takes to take end marriage discrimination in all levels of government and particularly in Georgia,” he said to loud applause and cheers from the some 100 people attending including state Senate candidate Kyle Williams, Atlanta City Councilmember Mary Norwood and Fulton County Commissioner Robb Pitts. Reed said he has talked to several members of the legislature and all were willing to listen and meet with him to discuss such a bill that would mandate the state recognize the legal marriage of gay couples who married in other states but make Georgia their home. This bill would be a ﬁrst step toward full marriage equality in Georgia, Reed said. “As a longtime supporter of equality for gay, lesbian and transgender and questioning individuals, I believe that denying loving and committed same-sex couples the freedom to marry is harmful to families, hurtful to our communities, it weakens our economy and does not fulﬁll the Golden Rule of treating our neighbors the way we would want to be treated,” Reed said. “No gay person should be prevented from marrying the people they love in the states they call home,” he added. “Some patience will be required, but not forever. Removing dis-
More than 100 activists joined a press conference Feb. 24 in which Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed (left)said he working with legislators to get a bill introduced in the General Assembly mandating Georgia recognize same-sex-marriages from other states. (Photos by Dyana Bagby)
crimination from our constitution needs to be done, not yesterday, not tomorrow, but right now.” Most marriage cases are in the South Southerners for the Freedom to Marry is a $1 million multi-state initiative to bring the South into the discussion of the national discussion on marriage equality, said Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry. The money raised from private donations will go to ﬁeld organizing, social media campaigns and possibly paid advertising, he said. “Across the South, hundreds of thousands of couples have fallen in love, have made a commitment for life, and deserve commit-
ment under the law — and that commitment is called marriage,” Wolfson said at the press conference. “These couples are caring, building lives together and a home together, raising their children, worrying about their aging parents and enriching their communities — it is for those couples that we are here.” In the U.S., 40 percent of residents live in states where same-sex marriage is legal — up from zero percent just a decade ago, Wolfson said. And national polls show 55 percent of Americans support marriage equality. It’s time to bring the momentum to the South with “patience and perseverance and persistence,” he added. There are currently 47 marriage cases in 25 states, most of them in the South, Wolfson said. Southerners are becoming emboldened because they are seeing the national momentum for marriage equality and are tired of their families being discriminated against, he added. Recent major victories have taken place in Virginia and Kentucky. Earlier this month, U.S. District Court Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen ruled Virginia’s same-sex-marriage ban is unconstitutional. She stayed her decision until an appeals court rules, so gay couples are not yet marrying in Virginia. But in a signiﬁcant move, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring
Reed is an honorary co-chair of the Southerners for Freedom to Marry campaign along with U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Atlanta). Other honorary co-chairs are: • Alabama: State Representative Patricia Todd (D) • Arkansas: TV producers Harry Thomason & Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan (D) • Florida: Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R) • Mississippi: Lance Bass, musician and author • North Carolina: Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt (D) • South Carolina: Rep. James Clyburn (D) • Texas: Rep. Joaquin Castro (D); Mark McKinnon, Chief media advisor to President George W. Bush • Virginia: U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D) There are an estimated 21,000 same-sex couples in Georgia. Georgia Equality has its own $10 million campaign, also working with Freedom to Marry, called “Why Marriage Matters Georgia.” This campaign hopes to raise the $10 million over the next ﬁve years to use as way to educate the public about marriage equality. While many plaintiffs have ﬁled lawsuits in states including Virginia, Kentucky, Texas, Oklahoma, Nevada, Michigan, Oregon and Pennsylvania to have their legal marriages recognized in their home states where samesex marriage is prohibited, Georgia is taking a conservative approach based on a 2004 ruling in the Atlanta-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit that upheld a law prohibiting a Florida gay couple from adopting. Linda Ellis, executive director of the Health Initiative, and her partner, Rev. Lesley Brogan, along with their two sons, John Brogan and Sam, spoke at Monday’s press conference and said they want to be an “old married couple” living in Georgia — and while their sons may consider them that already, the truth is they are not. The two met in 1988 and had a commitment service in 1991. At that service, they asked family and friends to be their to witness their love for each other as well as hold them accountable for the promises they were making to keep forever, Ellis said. “And for us, forever is Georgia. It is home,” Ellis said. “It’s time for marriage for all Georgians.”
GA VOICE | 13
‘Religious Freedom’ bill likely dies in Ga. House; Senate version still alive Upper chamber’s bill widely considered more dangerous
Rep. Drenner added she was more concerned with allegations that some LGBT community members were saying disrespectful remarks to the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Sam Teasley (R-Marietta), at the subcommittee hearing. “That doesn’t help our cause at all,” she said. “You can come down and be upset, but after you spew all over someone and leave, that becomes the lasting impression of what gay people are like for that member in the General Assembly. If given the opportunity to come back again, perhaps the behavior might be more professional.”
By PATRICK SAUNDERS Two controversial bills making their way through the General Assembly that could harm the civil rights of many people including LGBT residents are receiving heavy resistance from local activists who have showed up in force to protest. House Bill 1023 and Senate Bill 377, both named the “Preservation of Religious Freedom Act,” are making their way through the legislature but what was expected to happen was unclear as of press time Tuesday. Georgia Equality Executive Director Jeff Graham told the GA Voice late Tuesday, “According to various news sources, the House bill does appear dead at this point. However, there are still several days where the committee could meet and move the bill forward,” he said. The bill’s House sponsors have until midnight on Monday, March 3, to take action before the community can breathe a sigh of relief at HB 1023 truly being stalled. “There is also the matter of SB 377 that has already passed out of committee and is sitting in the Senate Rules Committee,” Graham continued. “We must remain vigilant, but Delta’s public opposition to these bills and the quickly changing meeting schedule do indicate that these bills are losing support.” Delta Air Lines issued a statement on Feb. 25 against bills like HB 1023 and a similar bill recently passed in Arizona: “As a global valuesbased company, Delta Air Lines is proud of the diversity of its customers and employees, and is deeply concerned about proposed measures in several states, including Georgia and Arizona, that would allow businesses to refuse service to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals. If passed into law, these proposals would cause signiﬁcant harm to many people and will result in job losses.”
GAY ACTIVIST: BILLS LIKE A ‘SWORD’ MEANT TO INJURE PEOPLE
Rep. Sam Teasley (R-Marietta) has stated that amendments he made to HB 1023 would make it just like the Religious Freedom Restoration Act passed by President Clinton in 1993. Anthony Kreis, a PhD student in the School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Georgia, agrees that HB 1023 and the federal law are similar, but says the bigger concern should be SB 377, the Senate bill which already passed through committee and could get a ﬂoor vote before Crossover Day.
‘IT’S NOT ABOUT CAKE’
“That bill is nothing like the bill President Clinton signed in the ’90s,” Kreis told GA Voice. LGBT activists packed a House Judiciary subcommittee meeting on Feb. 24 to protest House Bill 1023. Democratic State Sen. Jason Carter, who is running for governor, stopped by the House subcommittee hearing and talked to activists but did not make any public statement. (Photos by Patrick Saunders)
“The Senate bill is a sword which can be used to injure people, versus the federal law which was intended to shield people from objections that if you accommodate people they don’t harm other parties.” Kreis, also the political co-chair for Atlanta’s HRC Steering Committee, believes the House bill is dead this session but the Senate version still is very much alive and more treacherous than the House bill. “The House bill as it stands now and the Senate bill are worlds apart. The biggest difference is the Senate bill threatens to undermine our civil rights tradition, our religious liberty tradition and it raises church and state establishment concerns,” he said.
‘CAN’T SEE IT HAPPENING’
On Feb. 24, a capacity crowd that spilled out into the Capitol rotunda waited more than three hours for a subcommittee hearing on HB 1023 that could open Georgia’s LGBT residents to more discrimination. The delay was good news to Rep. Karla Drenner (D-Avondale Estates). “I’m happy that they’re taking a moment to pause on it. I know
State Rep. Simone Bell (D-Atlanta), who is openly gay, gave an emotional plea to subcommittee members to not allow the vote to move forward.
there’s going to be a substitute bill so I’m not sure at this juncture what’s going to happen with that,” she said Tuesday. House Judiciary Chair Rep. Wendell Willard (R-Sandy Springs) told WABE 90.1 FM on Feb. 25 that it was unlikely the bill would pass out of committee in time by Crossover Day on Monday, March 3. That despite a hearing being scheduled, then later canceled, on the bill that same day. “Can’t see it happening,” Willard told WABE. “It came in rather late in the session. Too many proponents and opponents.”
Emotions were high during the long day at the Georgia Capitol for LGBT activists waiting for the hearing with many leaving before the hearing began. The delay was due to the full House Judiciary Committee hearing that ran long, pushing the 3 p.m. scheduled time back to past 5 p.m. Then an unrelated bill was heard ﬁrst. Politicians, community leaders, religious leaders, business owners and private citizens ﬂooded the room throughout the night. State Senator and gubernatorial candidate Jason Carter stopped in for a quick greeting to crowd but did not make any remarks on the bill. Georgia Equality Executive Director Jeff Graham later told the GA Voice that he hadn’t seen the community come out like this on an issue since 2004. ”If we could get this many people out to support pro-LGBT legislation like Rep. Karla Drenner’s Fair Employment Practices Act or Rep. Keisha Waites anti-bullying bill [HB 816] we would likely see movement on them,” he said. State Rep. Simone Bell (D-Atlanta) came in for a portion of the meeting and made emotional remarks to committee members. “This is of great interest to our community,” she said. “It’s not about a cake, it’s not about a wedding event. It’s about us being able to live our lives fully, not as second class citizens but being able to go through this world as the people we were created to be.” Graham also told committee members he values religious freedom, but religion is often the cause of of preventing equality for LGBT people. “Please understand that as someone with a background in theology and religious studies, I value religious freedom and applaud efforts to ensure that diverse views are always heard and respected,” Graham said. “However, as a gay man, I can assure you that the vast majority of derogatory comments I have heard and the primary arguments used to prevent my community from achieving legal equality are rooted in what people profess to be their religious beliefs or their personal interpretation of a few selected biblical passages.”
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GA VOICE | 15
Building a ‘love revolution’ Create Love for Women Who Love Women confab ties intimacy, sexuality and community together By SHANNON HAMES “Create Love for Women Who Love Women” is described as a “love revolution” by its founders, Imani Evans and SharRon Jamison. They began their “love revolution” in September 2012 when they decided to unite as a counselor, Evans, and a minister, Jamison, to offer a platform for lesbians to build, sustain and celebrate healthy relationships. Since that time, their Create Love community has grown exponentially. Their website has registered over 60,000 hits, their Facebook group has over 2,300 members and they have a full calendar of events, including their second annual Create Love conference at the Courtyard Decatur Marriott in Decatur on March 7-8. Gail McDaniel attended the ﬁrst conference and plans to return again this year. “Last year’s conference was fun, informative and there were a lot of beautiful women. The biggest thing I took away was that women who love women needed this conference,” she says. McDaniel enjoyed the panel of couples who answered questions and also enjoyed visiting the vendor area. “They had all kinds of accessories for women, plus travel agencies, beauty products and food, too. I thought that section was well organized with a good variety,” she says. “This year I actually look forward to meeting as many people as possible. I have developed some very warm acquaintances on the [Create Love] Facebook page that I think will be long-lasting friendships.” Evans and Jamison say the conference will not shy away from touchy topics that hinder healthy relationships, including the subject of “lesbian bed death.” “At this year’s conference, we’re offering more than we could last year,” Evans says. “We now have the experience from last year and have built relationships with these women. We learned what they wanted and needed and created a program around those needs.” On Friday, March 7, the conference kicks off with a meet and greet for women to have a chance to come in and put a face with the name of the women they’ve been getting to know in Create Love for Women Who Love Women online forums. On Saturday, a performance by the all-woman West African drumming and dancing group Giwayen Mata begins the day, followed by workshops and a marketplace. That evening, Jamison will be ofﬁciating an open commitment ceremony which will
Imani Evans (left), a counselor, and minister ShaRon Jamison say the Create Love for Women Who Love Women conference is a way to meet new women while also learning from each other about issues including intimacy and healing. (Jamison photo by Alex Childs, Evans photo by Connie Cross)
CONFERENCE INFO Create Love for Women Who Love Women March 7-8 Courtyard Decatur Mariott Hotel 130 Clairemont Ave., Decatur, GA 30030 www.createloveforwomen.blogspot.com
be followed by a Love Jones after-party with DJ Tora Torres spinning the beats.
‘SO MUCH WISDOM IN COMMUNITY’
Jamison says there is a need to capture the wisdom in the community by allowing the connections that have started to take place be given a venue to grow. “There is value in the workshops and vendor areas, but even more importantly, the value is in the relationships that are now developing. There is so much wisdom in our community. We wanted to make sure we provided additional time for fellowshipping where people can share their experiences and get to know each other,” she says. Jamison also notes a need for healing. “We want to talk about ways that women are broken. We’ll talk about brokenness surrounding sexuality. There are so many ways that sexuality has been villainized.”
“People know us now and trust us now,” she adds. “They also trust themselves to share more with us now. We all want to leave women more empowered. But this year, we also want to leave them more healed. We started this movement knowing that when individuals are healed, they can heal their relationships, their families and their communities. That is why this is a revolution.” Evans agrees. “Look at how active our Facebook group is. The camaraderie and love that has formed in that group is going to enter that room this year. We have so many couples that were formed from the Create Love community! We should be doing a dating service or something because it is amazing how women are connecting. It’s not just romantic relationships, but friendships as well.” Evans and Jamison say that the overall theme of the Create Love community is to help women who seek to obtain, maintain and sustain quality and mutually satisfying relationships, beginning with self.
WORKSHOPS TO ADDRESS CHALLENGING TOPICS
With that goal in mind, each of them will be presenting a workshop at the conference. Jamison will be teaching on “Touchy Topics”
which focuses on topics that are most likely to challenge all types of relationships. “These are areas of conﬂict that I believe are areas that are opportunities for connection,” she says. “If we can look at those areas from a different vantage point, and understand that they are just preferences or pain, then we can connect with each other without judgment and just love each other exactly the way we are.” Jamison believes this workshop will give attendees a big take-away. “People will leave educated on what those issues are. They will learn to identify them, assess what role they might play in their lives and how to address them in a way that promotes healing and acceptance within their own spirit as well as with the people they interact with.” Evans’ workshop is sure to keep conference attendees alert. Her topic, “Raising Your EROTIC Consciousness: Exploring Sensuality, Intimacy & Sex!” is designed to help explore the difference between intimacy and sexuality. She was inspired to create her workshop when she noticed a heightened interest in the topic. “Some of the articles that I’ve written on our website this past year have been related to healthy sexuality. People have really responded to them and they garnered a phenomenal amount of hits,” she says. “I think that lesbians really struggle with healthy sexuality. There’s so much to try to understand. I really want to help restore healthy sexuality and also restore the idea of actually having sex. Let’s stop not having sex!”, she adds. Evans notes that sociologist Pepper Schwartz, author of “American Couples,” was the ﬁrst to identify “Lesbian Bed Death.” “The issue is still as proliﬁc as it was in the 80’s,” she says. “The longer lesbians are together, the less sex they tend to have. Sex is not everything, but it’s something when you’re not having it. It is also a marker for the level of intimacy that people have together. Not that you can’t have companionship and intimacy at some level without sex, but it is an integral part of connecting, spiritually and physically, with your partner. I want to restore some of that.” Evans says she wants those in her workshop to discuss intimacy and learn what it is and what it is not. “You can be physically close to someone and have absolutely no emotional, spiritual or psychological intimacy with them,” she says. “Your physical presence is not an indication of intimacy, but rather how you connect and the depths of vulnerability you are willing to expose to your partner. I really want to get at how all of that is connected.” Jamison agrees and adds, “We want to help women learn how to make a healthy sexuality a balanced part of your life whether you are single or partnered. It’s important to be a whole, healed person.”
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‘She’ll be sorely missed’ Dorothy Gallaway closes doors to clinic that served all, regardless of situation By DYANA BAGBY Seven years ago, Anne “Sarge” Barr felt a pain in her breast. She had no health insurance so she visited the Atlanta Lesbian Health Initiative and asked for help. The nonproﬁt, now known as the Health Initiative, referred her to one of its best resources for all their clients — Dorothy Gallaway and Family Health Enterprise. Gallaway, a nurse practitioner who founded the clinic in 1994, treats anyone who comes through the doors. When Barr went to her appointment, she received a full physical from Gallaway. The pain was caused by a harmless cyst. But because Gallaway did a complete physical including blood work, Barr learned she had type 2 diabetes. And this meant making some serious life changes. “When she was telling me about my diabetes, she was my cheerleader and my coach. She knew just the right way to yell at me to lose weight. To get me to stop drinking CocaCola is a hard thing to do and she did it,” Barr says. “She has saved my life.”
‘WE TREAT EVERYONE EQUALLY’
Now, after 20 years, Gallaway is shutting the doors to Family Health Enterprise. The nondescript small green building located on McDonough Road directly across the street from the U.S. Penitentiary in south Atlanta will no longer serve patients after Feb. 28. And for the approximately 4,000 patients a year the clinic saw, the time has come to ﬁnd a new healthcare provider. “Our mission was to respond to the expressed healthcare needs of underserved populations,” Gallaway says at her desk while a buzz of activity takes place down a short hall with an eye chart tacked at the far end. “Whatever they need we do our darned best to provide it.” Gallaway and her staff served poor people, undocumented people — people who could not readily access healthcare. And, Gallaway says, patients would travel hundreds of miles and from different states to her clinic because they knew they could receive the treatment they needed in a caring, compassionate way. “We treat everyone equally. We’ve had people come from all over the world,” Gallaway says.
TRUSTED BY TRANS MEN
In the past two years, Gallaway also was well-known for being one of the few provid-
Dorothy Gallaway is retiring from her clinic, Family Health Enterprise, after 20 years of service as a nurse practitioner providing healthcare services to underserved populations, including lesbians and trans men. (Photo by Dyana Bagby)
ers in metro Atlanta who treated transgender men and masculine-identiﬁed lesbians. “Two years ago, we began Real Bois Talk health education for masculine-identiﬁed women,” says Linda Ellis, executive director of the Health Initiative. “We knew masculine-identiﬁed lesbians were not willing to seek traditional clinics and we needed to have a health fair where we could have a stud-only space or masculine-only space. And Gallaway and her clinic were willing to close their doors for a day and we scheduled appointments — and they were able to sit in waiting area with their friends and people who look like them without fear or risk of being feared,” Ellis explains. For some, this was their ﬁrst upper and lower physical exams. Several transgender men also became regular patients of Gallaway’s through the Health Initiative. “Ms. Gallaway was very interested in serving everyone in the community and was completely interested in learning and including trans men as a part of the patients at the clinic,” says BT, founder and president of Transforming, who asked his name not be used. “The issue of ﬁnding low cost, respectful, culturally and linguistically competent healthcare for trans people in Atlanta is far and few between.” With Gov. Nathan’s Deal refusal to expand Medicaid, BT says many people, including trans individuals, will fall through the healthcare gap and not receive necessary services. “We are in desperate need of competent, respectful, affordable ways to get complete healthcare. More community clinics need to follow the steps of Ms. Gallaway and train their staff and open their doors to the trans community in the metro area and around Georgia,” BT says. “It’s a shame and a shock to most people when they realize that unlike most major cities with a large trans population like At-
lanta — we don’t have a dedicated clinic speciﬁc to our needs so its up to the community clinics to pick up this banner.” Gallaway’s easygoing manner with her patients, her ability to connect with them, to truly respect them and care for them — all of these qualities make her a one-of-a-kind nurse practitioner who has touched tens of thousands of lives. “She was so hands on. Teasing me and making sure I and anyone I sent to her clinic was treated with respect and taken care of. She did a lot with that space and she’ll be sorely missed,” BT says.
END OF AN ERA
Gallaway, who has a partner of 30 years, moved to Atlanta from Washington State in 1979 even though she knew no one. She lived in a pup tent her ﬁrst month here. She also lived in a camper during the “dead of winter” and learned quickly that the “South was like a different country.” As a registered nurse, she worked for Mercy Mobile Healthcare for the Homeless and became familiar with the area around the historic Cabbagetown and Reynoldstown neighborhoods. In 1994, she thought, “Why not open a clinic?” And with the help of her neighbors and the support of the community, Gallaway’s clinic opened at 97 Estoria — the spot where the hipster restaurant is now located. Eventually it became difﬁcult for people to get to the clinic with no easy access to MARTA, so Gallaway and her loyal staff moved before settling for the past ﬁve years on McDonough Road. It is here where they will see their last patients. “I would love to have another clinic move in here but I don’t know if that’s possible,” Gallaway says. “I regret there was not a clinic to step in for the community that needs this healthcare. But I’ve gone as far as I can go.”
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18 | GA VOICE
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
In the pink Pink Martini bandleader able to ‘Dream A Little Dream’ with von Trapps By GREGG SHAPIRO Where else but on a Pink Martini album such as “Dream A Little Dream” would you be able to hear Abba’s “Fernando” sung in the original Swedish? Not only that, it’s sung by the von Trapps (Soﬁa, Melanie, Amanda and August), the great grandchildren of Maria and Georg. Yes, that Maria and Georg. Also worth mentioning is a duet on “Lonely Goatherd” (in keeping with “The Sound of Music” theme) performed by Wayne Newton and Jack Hanna. Just wait until you hear what Pink Martini does with the title track, a standard that became a hit for The Mamas & The Papas in the 1960s. Under the direction of gay bandleader and pianist Thomas Lauderdale, the international ensemble Pink Martini has been intoxicating audiences throughout the 21st century. GA Voice: In recent years, on albums such as “1969 “and “Get Happy” and now “Dream A Little Dream,” Pink Martini expanded its scope through collaboration. Can you please say something about how you see collaboration ﬁtting in with Pink Martini’s recipe? Thomas Lauderdale: The band has always been about collaboration from the beginning. For me, I never thought that I would be in a band, let alone lead one. What I learned in college was how to throw a party more than anything else. I was kind of like the cruise director of the Harvard campus for four years. When I started the band what I really liked about the aspect of it was bringing more people on the stage which made the whole experience more festive and fun. There were people there to ally with. A shared experience as opposed to being a lonely concert pianist with nobody to spend time with. The stage then became more theatrical and fun by adding more people. As you said, the von Trapps could be heard on “Get Happy” and, to a greater extent, on “Dream A Little Dream.” How did the collaboration with the von Trapps come about? Two years ago I was scoring music for
Pink Martini, which describes itself as ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s meets the United Nations’, is touring with the great grandchildren of Maria and Georg von Trapp as part of the release of their new album, ‘Dream A Little Dream,’ set to be released March 4. (Photo by Chris Hornbecker)
Pink Martini with the von Trapps Sunday, March 2 7 p.m. Atlanta Symphony Hall www.atlantasymphony.org
the annual Christmas tree lighting in Pioneer Courthouse Square in Portland. I’m on the board for the Oregon Symphony and they called up and said, “We’ve got the von Trapps, the great-grandchildren of Maria and Georg, and they are going to be playing with the symphony tomorrow night. Do you mind if they come on stage during the Christmas tree lighting and perform a song or two?” I, who love “The Sound of Music” so much, was in heaven. When I met them, they were totally incredible. Beautiful young people who had been home schooled in Montana and they’ve been traveling and touring and performing for 10 years and had this incredible rapport and this incredible uniﬁed sound. Plus there’s the extraordinary history which is indicated by the name von Trapp. I totally fell in love. Looking at the repertoire they were performing, I thought, “It’s pretty ‘Sound of Music’ heavy. I could think of at least ﬁve songs that they should consider. They were actually at that point trying to ﬁgure out in what direction to go. They were straddling that line between being “The Sound of Music” kids to adults. I felt like I was a good person to actually make recommendations and to be helpful. We started working on this album and my goal for the album was to help them make the transition out of being just “The Sound of Music” to actually something else. I think what the album does is that; bridges the gap and allows them to go in any direction they want to go in future.
The album opens and closes with two of August von Trapp’s compositions, “Storm” and “Thunder” respectively. Why did you choose to do that? All of the songs we chose for this album are the songs I think would be the next step forward for life beyond “The Sound of Music.” I think there will always be that aspect of them, and that may be the way in for many people, but in the end I think what it’s actually about is something even more amazing than the original von Trapp family singers from 50 years ago. They are young and earnest and they have this new sound which is — I don’t know much about modern pop music but some people say they sound a lot like Fleet Foxes. That’s interesting because August adores Fleet Foxes. The goal was to create an album that would set them free so they can explore any direction and any kind of music they would want to do in the future. Some of Pink Martini’s upcoming tour dates, including Atlanta, will feature the von Trapps. What can people expect from the concerts? It’s going to be a hodgepodge of activity. We’re going to do all the material that comes from the collaboration with the von Trapps. Traveling with the von Trapp’s, they always make things better. I can only imagine that it’s going to be the most fun tour ever. ...The message of Pink Martini is one of empathy and compassion and ﬁnding ways of bringing people who are very different together and unite them through music; which is also the message of the von Trapp’s. Growing up in Indiana, my parents would entertain and I would go to sleep upstairs listening to the sound of laughter drifting upstairs. It was very calm in and comforting. I think that’s what I’m trying to duplicate in every aspect of my life.
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
EATING MYWORDS by CLIFF BOSTOCK
Take your tax return and treat yourself to tasty eats
Tips on where to go for the sublime to dirt cheap (but yummy) fare You may have read last week that Atlanta has won the prize for having America’s widest gap between the haves and have-nots. The very rich protest, as always, that their abundance trickles down to keep the poor from, I guess, starving to death under the bridges where they’re lucky to ﬁnd shelter. “Let them eat cake,” in other words. So, perhaps an IRS refund has allowed you to join the ranks of the rich for a few days. You may even want to let your cake trickle down and take a friend who owed taxes to a pricey restaurant. Or maybe you have no cake-trickling friends and would be just as happy to gnaw on a corn dog in a cheap restaurant. Following are a few alternating choices for both tricklers and trickleeze. Let’s get something clear, though. High-price does not necessarily mean you are going to get a meal superior to a cheap one. Ambiance, service, attention to ingredient sources, and, of course, creative skill of the chef all contribute to good dining out. But you can get a plate of great-tasting comfort for a comparatively small price at many Atlanta restaurants, especially ethnic ones. Restaurant Eugene: Yes, you will spend a lot of money here and you will likely eat sublimely. Chef/owner Linton Hopkins, who grew up in Buckhead, daily invents and reinvents a fascinating menu wholly dependent on what’s fresh from the farm. Try the tasting menu which reads like free verse with random capital letters. For example: “smoked acorn Squash, Fennel, kumquat” and “roasted Cauliﬂower country captain, Parsley, Granola, bitter orange.” Eugene has a national rep, but it’s also a mainstay for the Buckhead crowd. 2277 Peachtree Road, 404355-0131, www.restauranteugene.com. Desta Ethiopian Kitchen: It seems crazy to compare the inexpensive food of a poor nation like Ethiopia to that of Restaurant Eugene. But the kitchen here brings a similar obsession and creative twists to a cuisine that is mainly eaten by hand, scooped up in gluten-free injera bread. (Silverware is available for the fussy.) Most people’s favorite seems to be the ﬁsh tibs, chunks of tilapia sautéed in mysterious spices. I love the lamb, but the big don’t miss here is the savory vegetable dishes. Although it attracts Atlanta’s huge community of Ethiopians, the restaurant also caters to the spice-shy Atlanta palate. There are sauces on the table to bring greater depth for the more adventurous. 3086 Briarcliff Road, 404929-0011, www.destaethiopiankitchen.com Better Half: Marietta native Zach Meloy and his wife Cristina opened this restaurant recently as the follow-up to their two-year-old pop-up
Fresh, seasonal ingredients and meat from area farmers make Palookaville a great place to go for a cheap but delicious meal. (Photo via Facebook)
supper club, PushStart Kitchen. Before that, the two operated a restaurant in Costa Rica. The cost here borders on high-priced and is wildly creative. Standouts during my one visit were a short rib ﬂavored with coffee and burnt onions, and “silk handkerchief pasta” ﬁlled with wild mushrooms, topped with tomato marmalade. But the brief menu literally changes daily, so plan to experiment. The IRS wants you to go crazy with your refund and grow the economy. 349 14th St., 404-695-4547, www.betterhalf.com. Pallookaville Fine Foods: Dirt cheap and full of carnival kitsch, this is TV chef Jim Stacy’s brick-and-mortar offspring of his Pallookaville Corndog Wagon. Just go. My faves: the Fryenstein corn dog with a link of frankfurter, kielbasa, and Italian sausage; and a perfect Reuben made with house-cured pastrami. There are truly insane milkshakes like one featuring coffee ice cream, molasses, toasted coconut, candied ginger, and Sriracha sauce. Add booze to others. Make crazy sodas. Huge fun to bury your taxed misery. 17N Avondale Plaza, 404-500-1785, www. pallookaville.com. Cliff Bostock, PhD, conducts workshops in various subjects, including gay aging and the psychology of taste. 404-518-4415. www.cliffbostock.com.
GA VOICE | 19
Max Heimowitz, John Manzari, Maurice Hines, Leo Manzari and Sam Heimowitz, with members of the DIVA Jazz Orchestra, in Maurice Hines is Tappin’ Thru Life at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater November 15-December 29, 2013. Photo by Teresa Wood.
Written and Choreographed by MAurice Hines | direCted by Jeff cAlHoun
Broadway legend and tap extraordinaire Maurice Hines teams up with the unforgettable Manzari Brothers to share his life story and glamorous career through tap.
MAurice Hines is “tHe life of tHe pArty.” —Washington Post
“you’re in tHe Midst of A true stAr.” —BroadWay World
April 2–May 4 Tickets @ 404.733.5000 | alliancetheatre.org/tappin | Groups 404.733.4690 fulton county arts & culture Series on the Alliance Stage
Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
GA VOICE | 21
THEATER byJIM FARMER
Tony winner headlines Atlanta Symphony Gala Audra McDonald to sing classics, newer numbers Theater royalty doesn’t shine much brighter than Audra McDonald. The actress-singer and Broadway legend will be the headliner at the fourth Annual Atlanta Symphony Gala next week. The Gala is being held to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Orchestra’s Talent Development Program, which identiﬁes gifted African-American and Latino musicians and gets them ready for acceptance into top music programs, with the ultimate goal to prepare them for careers as professional musicians. McDonald was happy to come down for an event of such caliber. “They called and asked me to be a part of it,” she says. She was honored and luckily it ﬁt into her schedule. “I think music education is an integral, important part of education,” she says. “It’s necessary. It opens people’s minds.” As part of her evening with the ASO, McDonald will tackle Broadway numbers and some classical ones as well. She will do some Sondheim, some Gershwin, some Rodgers and Hammerstein, along with a few newer artists.
Fourth Annual Symphony Gala with Audra McDonald March 8 at 7:30 p.m. Atlanta Symphony Orchestra 1280 Peachtree Street NE, Atlanta, GA 30309
Star of stage and TV, Audra McDonald returns to Atlanta for the Atlanta Symphony Gala honoring African-American and Latino musicians. (Photo by Michael Wilson)
She claims not to have a number one in her repertoire. “There are certain ones I like to do, but there is no favorite,” she says. “It depends on the mood; I love them all.” The performer has won ﬁve Tony Awards, tying her for most awards won (in the acting category) with Angela Lansbury and Julie Harris. By the age of 28 she had already grabbed three of those, for “Carousel,” “Master Class” and “Ragtime.” Her fourth was for the drama “A Raisin in
the Sun,” directed by former Alliance Theatre artistic director Kenny Leon, who now helms True Colors Theatre Company. Her ﬁfth Tony Award came just a few years ago for “Porgy and Bess.” This was also her ﬁrst award in the Leading Actress category. She laughs when asked where she keeps her ﬁve Tonys. “Around the house, here and there,” she says. Her daughter used her ﬁfth Tony as a prize for a sleepover recently. “They kept me out!” McDonald says. McDonald is certainly aware that her fan base includes strong support in the LGBT community. “I don’t know why, but I know that I’ve been very supported by the community my entire career,” she says. “I have friends, people who have taken care of me, almost been parents. I try to advocate [for the community] whenever I can.” She gained a new legion of fans for her work in December’s TV version of “The Sound
of Music Live!” It was important for her to be part of that, she says. “I had worked with the producers (Craig Zadan and Neil Meron) before,” she says. “To take on an iconic show and an iconic role was exciting.” Her Mother Abbess came close to stealing the production, with McDonald singing a version of “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” that practically stopped the show. McDonald is happy that a new generation of fans got to see the musical and would be game to do another live theatrical event. The actress is also known for her role as Dr. Naomi Bennett on the ABC television drama “Private Practice,” which reunited her with Leon, who directed some episodes. McDonald has performed in the area twice and found acclaim. Having won success on television, ﬁlm and onstage both in musicals and drama, there is surprisingly something she’d like to do more. “I’d really like to do Shakespeare,” she admits. It’s also been reported that she will join Oprah Winfrey for a Broadway version of the drama “Night Mother” next season. A few years ago, the Symphony Gala hosted another musical theater icon. Bernadette Peters came to town for the event not long after she ﬁnished her Broadway run of “Follies.”
22 | GA VOICE
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Photo by Dan Lax
FRIDAY, FEB. 28
The Sixth Annual Big Wig Party benefits the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus and the Atlanta Women’s Chorus, with tickets starting at $30, 7 p.m., Paris on Ponce, www.parisonponce.com
bout Tell us aBT event your LG ays to submit your
two w our online There are clusion in in r fo t n e v it your LGBT e dars. Subm ice. n le a c t n ri GAVo and p www.the ditor@ to fo in t n e ev to e ail details com or e-m om. e.c theGAVoic Courtesy photo
The Atlanta Gay Chamber of Commerce (AGLCC) hosts its Fourth Friday networking event from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m., Vivid Hair Salon, www.vividatlanta.com Fabrefaction Theatre Company’s homoerotic “Shakespeare’s R&J,” directed by Brian Clowdus, runs through March 2, with a performance tonight at 8, Fabrefaction, www.fabrefaction.org Film Love presents the Czechoslovakian film “Diamonds of the Night,” about two young prisoners of war pursued after they escape from a train, 8 p.m., Emory University’s White Hall, Room 208, www.emory.edu
Swank, a lady’s mixer with DJ Prism, is tonight from 9 p.m. – 2 a.m. at 10th & Piedmont, www. communitashospitality.com/10th-and-piedmont
SATURDAY, MARCH 1 Purim off Ponce 2014, Beyond the Rainbow, is SOJOURN’s (formerly the Rainbow Center) annual fundraiser, a festive night of great costumes, divas, food, fun and more, 7:30 – 11 p.m., Callanwolde Fine Arts Center, www.callanwolde.org
The queer variety show Sweet Tea presets The Love Edition featuring comedy, live music, performances, an art exhibit and more. Free. 9 p.m. at The Hangar, 151 Sampson St., Atlanta, GA 30312, http://tinyurl.com/p6rye5u The Other Show: Twerks of Art version starring Celeste Holmes, Edie Cheezburger, Evah Destruction, Jaye Lish, Miami Royale and Violet Chachki, begins at 9:30 p.m. at Jungle, www.jungleatl.com Gender Fuzions Cabaret featuring The Goddess Raven as well as Lauren Lamasters, Heather Daniels, Lacie Bruce, Anita Richcock and Sasha Stephens present its Flame Fatalé tour. General admission is $10 for those 21 and older; $13 for those 18-20. Takes place at Fuzions, 806 North Broad St., Monroe, GA 30656, www.fuzionsonline.com
B.I.G. Productions present the return of Bear Invasion with special guest DJs John LePage and Sean Mac. 9 p.m., Heretic Atlanta, www.hereticatlanta.com
Screening of “Al Nisa: Black Muslim Women in Atlanta’s Gay Mecca” directed by Red Summer is a free event open to the public. A discussion will follow the screening and there will be a small reception. 6 p.m. at Georgia State University Student Center Speaker’s Auditorium, 44 Courtland St., Atlanta, GA 30303. www.studentcenter.gsu.edu/contact-us/
SOMETHING GAY EVERY DAY! Bookmark www.thegavoice.com to get your daily dose of local LGBT events.
SATURDAY, MARCH 1
Dragavanza 2, benefiting Jerusalem House and Lost-N-Found, will feature emcee Chandler Bearden, Patrick Hanson on stage painting live, and entertainers Al’Meria Richman, Ginger Vitis, Holly Walden, Erica Lee, Misti Shores, Amber Divine, The East Point Possums, Katy Cakes Taylor, Sandy Springs, and Regina Cartier. Doors open at 5 p.m. with show at 6:30 p.m., Jungle, www.jungleatl.com
Atlanta Gender Variations: Parents of gender variant/trans children support group meets today from 2 – 4 p.m. at Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta, www.uuca.org
Film Love presents the second part of their Czech New Wave series with the once-banned “A Report on the Party and the Guests,” about a group of bourgeois picnickers who are coerced into attending an outdoor banquet run by a sinister chairman and his henchman, 8 p.m. at Emory University’s White Hall, Room 208, www.emory.edu
The Traxx Ladies Lounge event, 2.0 Fridays, is tonight at My Sister’s Room, www.mysistersroom.com
SATURDAY, MARCH 1
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 5
Enjoy soft drinks, nibbles and 10 percent off the entire store at the Barking Leather Brick and Mortar grand opening, 12 - 6 pm, 2585 Chantilly Dr. NE, Atlanta, Georgia 30324
The Atlanta Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and The Atlanta Eagle host Jock Strap Sister Twister, a night of fun and frolic the first Saturday night of each month, 9 – 11 p.m., Atlanta Eagle, www.atlantaeagle.com B.I.G. Productions present the return of Bear Invasion with special guest DJs John LePage and Sean Mac. 9 p.m., Heretic Atlanta, www.hereticatlanta.com Joshua D spins just after Ruby’s Redd Light District show at Jungle, beginning at 9 p.m., www.jungleatl.com The Divas Cabaret, starring Destiny Brooks, Heather Daniels, Iysis Dupree, Kitty Love and special guests, is tonight, with DJ Birdman spinning, 11 p.m., LeBuzz, www.thenewlebuzz.com
SUNDAY, MARCH 2
SAGE Atlanta hosts its monthly social meeting from 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., Phillip Rush Center, www.rushcenteratl.org
The gay community’s Super Bowl – the Academy Awards – airs tonight at 8 p.m. with several LGBT-themed films up for prizes. Numerous local parties are on tap, including one at Friends (www.friendsonponce.com) at 7 p.m. and another at 10th & Piedmont, which has a $15 bottomless champagne special beginning at 7 p.m., www.communitashospitality.com/10thand-piedmont/
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the Nigerian-born author of “Purple Hibiscus” and “Half a Yellow Sun,” reads from her new paperback, “Americanah,” a story of love and race centered around a young man and woman from Nigeria who face difficult choices and challenges in the countries they come to call home, 7 p.m, First Baptist Church of Decatur, www.fbcdecatur.com
Xion’s weekly dance party features DJ Twisted Dee, 3 a.m., www.xionatlanta.com
Pink Martini with special guests the Von Trapps play Atlanta Symphony Hall. 7 p.m., www.atlantasymphony.org The Armorettes bring down the house tonight at Sing-Along Sundays at 9 p.m. at Burkhart’s, www.burkharts.com
MONDAY, MARCH 3
Trans and Friends is a youth focused group for trans*people, people questioning their own gender, and aspiring allies. This is a project of the Feminist Outlawz co-sponsored by Charis Circle’s Strong Families, Whole Children Program. 7 – 8:30 p.m., Charis Books, www.charisbooksandmore.com The Atlanta PFLAG Support Group meets tonight from 7:30 – 9 p.m. at Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta, www.uuca.org
TUESDAY, MARCH 4
The Mardi Gras Hurricane Party! promises a night of fun beginning at 5 p.m. at Friends on Ponce, www.friendsonponce.com The 2012 Tony Award winner for Best Musical, “Once,” bows in Atlanta tonight at the Fox Theatre at 7:30 p.m., www.foxtheatre.org Film Love presents the third film in their Czech New Waves series, the surrealist musical comedy “Martyrs of Love,” 8 p.m., Emory University’s White Hall, Room 208, www. emory.edu
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 5
Hump Night fun is hosted by Regina at Friends on Ponce at 8 p.m., www.friendsonponce.com Dragnificence is every Wednesday at 10 p.m. at Jungle, www.jungleatl.com
THURSDAY, MARCH 6
Robert J. Patterson discusses his book “Exodus Politics: Civil Rights and Leadership in African American Literature and ks, Culture” tonight. This is a Charis Circle From e and Margin to Center Literary Program with a spin- suggested donation of $5, 7 – 9:30 p.m., Charis m Books, www.charisbooksandmore.com
GA VOICE | 23
Join HRC Atlanta at Ink & Elm in Emory Village for the Atlanta Gala Dinner & Auction Pre-Dinner Reception, 7 p.m., www.inkandelmatlanta.com/
FRIDAY, MARCH 7
Brent Star hosts the new Game Night at G’s Midtown from 9 – 11 p.m., www.gilbertscafe.com
Jungle hosts Dinner and a Movie every Friday, 7 p.m., www.jungleatl.com
Decadence: A Night of Drinking and Debauchery is hosted by Adam Bland and Ashley Mitchell with beats by DJ Daryl Cox. Doors open at 10 p.m. with a Wet Underwear Contest at 11 p.m. with a cash prize, Ten Atlanta, www.tenatlanta.com
Start your weekend off right with cocktails and friends at Woof’s TGIF party beginning at 5 p.m., www.woofsatlanta.com
Atlanta Team Tennis Association (ATTA) begins its annual ChATTAhoochee Doubles Classic tonight and lasting through Sunday, Sharon Lester Tennis Center, www.atta.org
CONTINUED ON PAGE 24
CAROLINA CHOCOLATE DROPS Saturday, March 1
–The Wall Street Journal
ALFREDO RODRIGUEZ TRIO 8 p.m.
SHUFFLE, SHAkE AND SHATTER by
SANFORD bIGGERS “A quiet force in the art world”
8 p.m. –Art in America sponsored by
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 23
Heretic’s PUMP Friday features a live performance and meet-n-greet by the one and only Debby Holiday. DJ Mike Pope will be taking over the tables after. 10 p.m., www.hereticatlanta.com
“Rodriguez’s talent for finding emotional truth in the splitsecond fall of a piano key has brought him to the verge of an improbable success story” –Los Angeles Times
Friday, March 28
Call today for tickets! 404-894-9600
“bEsT THEaTrE CoMPany” 2013 Year iN review - aTlaNTa JourNal-CoNsTiTuTioN
SATURDAY, MARCH 8
Create Love for Women Who Love Women Conference includes interactive workshops, entertainment, a marketplace and more. 8:30 a.m. — 5 p.m., Courtyard Mariott in Decatur. www.createloveforwomen.blogspot. com/p/2013-conference.html Play Texas Hold ’Em at 4 p.m. and stick around for guest DJs at Mixx Atlanta, www.mixxatlanta.com The 4th annual Symphony Gala, celebrating the ASO’s Talent Development Program, features a performance by multiple Tony winner Audra McDonald, 7:30 p.m., Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, www.aso.org Hot Mess! is a weekly dance party at Mary’s, 9 p.m., www.marysatlanta.com DJ Dave Huge hosts the New York Exchange, while the Southern Bears host a Bar Night/21st Anniversary Party at 10 p.m., Atlanta Eagle, www.atlantaeagle.com Shawnna Brooks headlines Synergy along with new show regular Evah Destruction beginning at 11 p.m. at Burkhart’s, www.burkharts.com
Jordan Harrison directed by Kate Warner
“sharp drawn aly n Funny” d -The
March 22 april 20 actors-express.com 404.607.SHOW
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SUNDAY, MARCH 9
Movies with the Bears – the Southern Bears gather to watch “300: Rise of the Empire” at a TBD time at Movie Tavern at Northlake Festival, www.southernbears.uniqweb.net Lateasha Shante Shuntel headlines the Silicone Outlaw show, with guests Nichelle Paris, Raquel Lord, Nicole Paige Brooks, Shawnna Brooks and Taejah Thomas, 8 p.m., Blake’s, www.blakesontheparkatlanta.com The Morgan Rowe Band comes to Eddie’s Attic, 8 p.m, www.eddiesattic.com
Actor’s Express at the King Plow Arts Center fulton county arts & culture
Onyx Bar Night is from 10 -11 p.m., Atlanta Eagle, www.atlantaeagle.com
“an American roots-music phenomenon”
Friday, March 7
Major funding for this organization is provided by the Fulton County Board of Commissioners under the guidance of the Fulton County Arts Council. This program is supported in part by the City of Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs.
2/17/14 6:46 PM
Blackout Party from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. at the Atlanta Eagle, $5 cover, www.atlantaeagle.com
24 | GA VOICE
FRIDAY, MARCH 7
Heretic’s PUMP Friday features a live performance and meet-n-greet by the one and only Debby Holiday. DJ Mike Pope will be taking over the tables after. 10 p.m., www.hereticatlanta.com Flashback Showgirls hosted by Angelica D’Paige every Sunday featuring a new decade each week and live DJ. Showtime is 8 p.m., 10th and Piedmont, www.10thandpiedmont.com Enjoy $2 well drinks all day/night at Bulldogs, 893 Peachtree St., Atlanta, GA 30309
MONDAY, MARCH 10
Jukebox Drag with Knomie Moore is tonight from 8 – 11 p.m. Heretic Atlanta, www.hereticatlanta.com Join DJ Vicki Powell & DJ Ree de la Vega plus special guest performers for a night of fellowship and revelry at Log Ram: The Revival, celebrating the birthday of the late Ria Pell, 9 p.m., Mary’s, www.marysatlanta.com New Monday Night Trivia, hosted by Wild Cherry Sucret, offers chances to win up to $250 in cash and prizes. 11 p.m., Blake’s, www. blakesontheparkatlanta.com Every Monday is Stars of the Century at 11:30 p.m. at Jungle, www.jungleatl.com
TUESDAY, MARCH 11
Dinner Party with Chance and a Movie, followed by karaoke with 126,000 songs and DJ Birdman at LeBuzz spinning, with no cover, LeBuzz, www.thenewlebuzz.com Girlz Retro Tuesdays offers a ’70s Vibe with music & dancing and drink & food specials every second Tuesday at McGowan’s Oakhurst Pub, 5:30-8 p.m. www.mcgowansoakhurstpub.com
BOOKS by Terri Schlichenmeyer
What exactly makes a marriage real? ‘The Marriage Act’ engages readers to ask what union is truly about
The room was crowded, ﬁlled with only two people. At least that’s what it seemed as the groom looked at his beloved: there was no one else in the room but them. You could see it on their faces, the way their eyes danced together, alone in a sea of well-wishers, seeing only one another. So what makes a marriage work? Is it effort, honesty, trust, acceptance, love? Or, as in the new book “The Marriage Act” by Liza Monroy, should you strive to marry your best friend — even if it’s illegal? Throughout her life, Liza Monroy says there’ve been three important men: her father; her boyfriend, Julian; and her best friend, Emir. She’d barely seen her father since she was six years old, following her parents’ divorce. Julian was in Manhattan, far from Monroy’s L.A. home and, though they were engaged, their relationship was rocky. Emir, however, was nearby – just three blocks away – and Monroy saw him whenever she needed him. She needed Emir a lot. They met in college. He was in the U.S. on a student visa, from a country Monroy calls Emirstan. She’d been running from her mother’s inﬂuence. He was gay. She is not. They became fast friends. And in the weeks following Sept. 11, 2001, when just being Middle Eastern was cause for suspicion, Emir’s visa was about to expire. By that time, Monroy’s engagement had fallen apart. She was afraid of love, but more terriﬁed of being alone. She asked Emir to marry her, which seemed like a great solution: Emirstan was intolerant of gay men and deportation was dangerous. Marrying her gay best friend would allow Monroy to practice at
‘With angst that would make Woody Allen proud, and a near-inability to keep secrets, author Liza Monroy writes of stress, misgivings, and sabotaging plans to keep her gay best friend stateside.’
Liz Monroy’s ‘The MArriage Act.’ (Publicity photo)
marriage. Never mind that the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services disallows marriage for a green card’s sake and Monroy’s mother was an UCIS agent. But what, exactly, makes a marriage? What characterizes it? If it’s love, then Monroy and Emir had that. If it’s needing one another, they had that, too. Did marriage have to be about sex and babies, or is it possible to redeﬁne it? “The Marriage Act” should be a good book. Surely, it’s unique enough since it chronicles a gutsy, illegal act that, accidentally, turned out well for all concerned. It should be good – and it is. Just not as much as I’d hoped. With angst that would make Woody Allen proud, and a near-inability to keep secrets, author Liza Monroy writes of stress, misgivings, and sabotaging plans to keep her gay best friend stateside. That would be tolerable, perhaps even madcap, if it wasn’t so repetitive and fussy. Add in many blame-the-parents passages and a falls-ﬂat attempt at humor within a lack of culpability; mix in occasional, bumbling sweetness and not-so-subtle lessons, and you’ve got a memoir that’s, well, passably okay. I think this book is worth a look-see. If you want to read an unusual story and you can handle the irritations, you might like it. If you’re looking for something a little slicker, though, “The Marriage Act” is an I do… NOT.
GA VOICE | 25
26 | GA VOICE
THAT'S WHATS SHE SAID A moment in time
Remembering the life of a teen whose life was cut short
LESLIE A. COOK JD, CFP®, CDFA™ Financial Advisor 825 Juniper St Atlanta, GA 30308 404.564.4265 firstname.lastname@example.org ameripriseadvisors.com/ leslie.a.cook
Can you keep your lifestyle in retirement? Let’s talk.
Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA and SIPC. © 2014 Ameriprise Financial, Inc.
Last Friday during lunch, I could be found sitting in the back of a church. Not being Catholic, I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do during the service at The Catholic Shrine of the Immaculate Conception near Underground Atlanta, so the last pew seemed the best vantage point. I was there because of someone I had never really met, but whose hat hangs in my home. It belonged to a young woman who died 10 years ago, and her family held a memorial mass that day in her honor. Her name was Marilu and she listened to me every day on the radio. An active teenager, she developed a pain in her leg that seemed normal but it wouldn’t go away. When Marilu went to the doctor, he told her it was a sprained muscle and to take ibuprofen. She followed his instructions but the pain remained. Frustrated, her mother insisted that the doctors ﬁnd out what was really going on. They did. She was diagnosed with Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancer that effects older children and teenagers. Marilu underwent chemotherapy, and despite the treatments she was able to graduate from St. Pius High School in Atlanta. She also completed a semester at Kennesaw State University, with honors. But by the end of 2003, the cancer had spread and she was admitted into Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite in the fall of 2003. During that time the Tennessee Volunteers were in Atlanta for the Peach Bowl. As is customary for any school that plays in that game, members of the team tour a local children’s hospital and give away signed items to the kids. Tennessee chose to visit Scottish Rite, and as an alum of UT I volunteered to go with them to carry hats and Sharpies so the players had plenty of supplies. We toured the halls of the hospital and visited each sick child, leaving behind a white hat with an orange T signed by members of the team. There were some patients who were
Melissa Carter is one of the Morning Show hosts on B98.5. In addition, she is a writer for Huffington Post. She is recognized as one of the first out radio personalities in Atlanta and one of only a few in the country. Follow her on Twitter @MelissaCarter
asleep in their beds when we stopped by, and in those cases we simply left the signed hat with their parents. Others were in more serious situations, like the coma Marilu was in. But we made sure to leave their families with a hat. I was probably near Marilu for mere seconds, but the impact of that minute remains to this day. Marilu came out of her coma a couple weeks after our visit, and was showed the hat that had been left behind. Her brother later told me that the ﬁrst words out of Marilu’s mouth upon seeing it were how much I would like that hat, if I didn’t already have one. Being a listener, she knew what a big Tennessee fan I was. But in what would become her ﬁnal battle with this terrible disease, she somehow thought of me. Add to that the fact no one in her family had any idea I had been there that day with the players, so her wish to give me the hat to me was organic. She died on Feb. 21, 2004, at the age of 19. That spring her hat was hanging on my wall. It’s funny how moments we don’t pay much attention to end up being some of the most meaningful in the end. I was so excited to be walking with Coach Phil Fulmer and members of my college team that I never thought twice about whose hospital room I was going into. I only noticed how these massive football players smiled at those eager kids with dark circles under their eyes, whose day was made by the autographs. My job was to simply stand on the sidelines and make sure the guys had enough ink. But a decade later I ﬁnd myself sitting alone on a bench in a strange church, praying for one of those patients. A patient who used my voice through her radio as a distraction from her fear. A girl who should be here today, stressing out about turning 30.
GA VOICE | 27
TSOMETIMES 'Y' Rage & ‘Respect’
The sinister proposals and policies of angry white men
One thing Georgia politics has never been short on is angry white men. Georgia’s ﬁrst governor, William Ewen, was so uptight that he belonged to a group known as The Malcontents. Tom Watson, a U.S. senator from Georgia during the 1920s, had an antipathy toward blacks and Jews that was so intense that it was bronzed and placed at the footsteps of the state capitol, until his scowling sculpture was relocated just a few months ago. The current torchbearer for the grumpy white male ﬂame is state Rep. Sam Teasley (RMarietta), who is the lead sponsor of the segregationist bill that would allow businesses to turn away LGBT customers on religious grounds. I doubt there are any statues of Teasley in the works, as his proposal — which might’ve received near unanimous consent a decade ago — seems doomed in the wake of the outrage to a similar bill in Arizona. While I’m hopeful that Georgia’s “Turn Away the Gays” will wither in the General Assembly, I still feel like I’m haunted by the spirit of the Angry White Man during my daily commute. Last November, MARTA unveiled a code of conduct that has been aggressively hyped as “Ride With Respect,” but whose ﬁrst draft was likely titled, “Things Black People Need to Stop Doing so White People Will Experience Less Irrational Fear While on MARTA.” The code of conduct echoes MARTA’s existing policies on food, vandalism and other benign nuisances of public transportation, but the marketing of “Ride With Respect” has been loaded with condescension and racial overtones. The campaign’s signage has emphasized the prohibition of loud music, which a Florida murder trial recently reminded us is a euphemism for unruly black youth. MARTA boasts of creating a shadow judicial system with classes of violations, non-appealable suspensions and lifetime banishments because “everyone deserves to enjoy the ride.” And who is everyone? According to a “Ride With Respect” poster, it’s a group of white folks going to a rock concert who need to know, “You’ll hear loud music once you get to Philips Arena, but not while you’re on MARTA.” Another poster comforts nervous riders with
March 1, 2014 Le Maison Rouge@@ The Sixth Annual
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Ryan Lee is an Atlanta writer.
a picture of a dopey giraffe and the suggestion, “Go to the zoo to see some animals, because you won’t see any on MARTA.” This branding could be considered tone deaf were the history, clientele and perception of MARTA not so intractably inﬂuenced by skin color. Instead it seems sinister and patronizing for MARTA to lecture its existing ridership to sit more respectfully so “everyone” can enjoy the ride. In order to attract new users, MARTA has created a “Customer is Always Wrong” policy for its existing riders. MARTA has an image problem, and feeds into it with exaggerated crackdowns and an institutional lack of self-awareness. For example, MARTA has two smartphone apps: one that features user-friendly schedules and real-time tracking of buses and trains, and a “See & Say” app that allows riders to report suspicious behavior. I have been an everyday MARTA rider for almost a dozen years, and never once have I seen activity that would prompt me to report it to law enforcement ofﬁcials. Yet, it is “See & Say” that is the more heavily publicized MARTA app, with posters that feature a woman wearing a Middle Eastern head wrap in the center of unsuspecting commuters. MARTA ofﬁcials are clueless not only about the security of their facilities, but also in their belief that rider misbehavior — rather than shoddy service and abominable customer relations — is what’s keeping new riders away. As outlandish as “See & Say” and “Ride With Respect” have been, the most absurd communication from MARTA to its users is on the standard signage that outlines the dos and don’ts while riding MARTA. The list is what you would expect: no eating, drinking, smoking, littering, grafﬁti, etc. It also includes a prohibition against carrying weapons, however there is an asterisk to this entry: “Except Firearms When Carrying a Valid Permit.” So in case there is any confusion, you can be suspended from MARTA for eating a candy bar or if your music blares too loudly from your headphones, but it’s entirely permissible for you to bring a loaded handgun on a bus or train. If that is not a wink-and-nod to Angry White Men, I don’t know what is.
Proceeds benefit Atlanta Gay Men s chorus and the atlanta women s chorus
TICKETS AT VOICESOFNOTE oRG
Published on Feb 26, 2014
Published on Feb 26, 2014
Our Money Matters issue: How the fall of DOMA will impact taxes for same sex couples. Also, a lesbian conference on intimacy and healing. "S...