06/26/15, Vol. 6 Issue 8

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GEORGIANEWS

AID Atlanta teams up with AIDS Healthcare Foundation Local ASO in ‘significant debt’ as it affiliates with controversial national org. By DYANA BAGBY Atlanta and national HIV/AIDS activists are denouncing the decision of AID Atlanta to become an affiliate with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, led by the controversial figure Michael Weinstein. AID Atlanta announced the decision to “join forces” with AHF on June 19; almost immediately there was backlash from local HIV activists who took to social media to criticize the move. No local activists would go on the record with Georgia Voice, however. AID Atlanta boasts a $7.6 million annual budget. Its main sites are in Midtown Atlanta and a clinic in Newnan, Georgia. AHF also has a clinic in Lithonia, Georgia. Controversy surrounding AIDS Healthcare Foundation and PrEP AHF’s controversial stance on pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, angers many HIV activists. PrEP, distributed as a pill known as Truvada, can reduce the risk of contracting HIV up to 92 percent when taken consistently. AHF’s president, Michael Weinstein, has called PrEP a “party drug,” alleging that gay and bisexual men would only use the pill as a way to tell themselves it was OK to have casual and anonymous sex. James Hughey, Interim CEO of AID Atlanta, said, as he understands it, Weinstein is not opposed to PrEP, and he pointed to an editorial ad AHF placed in several LGBT newspapers this month as part of a new campaign. “What did you get from that that says he does not support PrEP?” Hughey asked the Georgia Voice. Hughey then said AID Atlanta has a grant with Gilead—a one-year, $79,000 grant that began in March—to issue PrEP. But, he added, PrEP is not being readily prescribed in metro Atlanta because of the high costs associated with it. Currently AID Atlanta, which boasts serving 5,000 people annually, has 14 patients taking Truvada.

AID Atlanta is teaming up with AIDS Health Care Foundation, led by controversial figure Michael Weinstein. (Photo via AHF)

“If you look at PrEP in the community, patients don’t have the ability to pay. There is little use of PrEP. It is difficult to pay for, including the physicians and labs. I hope we can bring that into the discussion—how do we pay for it? I don’t hear that in any dialogue.” —James Hughey, Interim CEO of AID Atlanta “If you look at PrEP in the community, patients don’t have the ability to pay. There is little use of PrEP. It is difficult to pay for, including the physicians and labs. I hope we can bring that into the discussion—how do we pay for it?” he said. “I don’t hear that in any dialogue.” But does Hughey believe in removing all barriers to getting PrEP into the hands of those who want it? “Yes, with the caveat that the decision as to whether to take PrEP is always one that should be made between a patient and his or her provider,” Hughey answered. Does Hughey believe PrEP is not cost effective at all? “The point I was trying to make is relat-

ed to people that do not have insurance or the ability to pay,” he said. “It is difficult for AID Atlanta to provide free PrEP without having a means to cover the physician and lab costs even with free medication. For insured patients we can see patients and prescribe PrEP for those patients, when appropriate. We will continue doing this for the community, as appropriate.” At Pride Medical, a for-profit agency, there are more than 150 patients taking Truvada. “Since the FDA approval [of PrEP], every person who has come to Pride Medical to get on Truvada for PrEP has had their insurance company pay for it or Gilead has given them the medication for free,” said Lee Anisman, former CEO of Pride Medical and one of the Pride Medical patients taking PrEP.

“Quite a few people are talking about that comment Hughey made [about PrEP cost effectiveness]. Very progressive states such as New York and California have been very proactive in setting up programs to get the residents who are at high risk for infection on PrEP. It’s an undisputed fact that people who are compliant with their PrEP regimen are over 92 percent less likely to contract HIV. Studies done by the CDC show that condoms are less than 70 percent effective when used correctly and consistently. I am an advocate of condoms and PrEP, which gives close to 100 percent protection,” Anisman said. Mark King, a former staff member of AID Atlanta and a longtime HIV activist now living in Baltimore, has written about AHF’s troublesome stance on PrEP at his blog, My Fabulous Disease. He told the Georgia Voice he was very disturbed by this new relationship and issued a statement. “AHF’s campaign of misinformation around PrEP makes them the most dangerous entity in the HIV arena right now. Their stubborn denial of the scientific proof that pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) has now been proven marvelously effective has made them outliers and outcasts in the prevention arena,” King said. “Now that they have swallowed up AID Atlanta, you can expect to see the same misinformation in Atlanta. And that is a frightening prospect indeed, considering the high rates of HIV infection and the urgent need for prevention tools such as PrEP.” Atlanta is ranked No. 5 among U.S. cities for new HIV infections with Georgia ranking in also at No. 5 as the state with the most new HIV infections. Hughey said AID Atlanta would continue to prescribe PrEP if it was in the best interest of the patient. “What I am really clear on is if a physician and patient agree this is the best for the patient, then we will prescribe PrEP. But the money there is limited, regardless of wanting to do more,” he said. AID Atlanta faced ‘significant debt’ Hughey said AHF was one of numerous organizations he spoke to when it was decided the Atlanta-based AIDS service orgaCONTINUES ON PAGE 10

4 News June 26, 2015 www.thegeorgiavoice.com


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6/16/15 1:20 PM


GEORGIANEWS

Fulton audits in wake of millions in unspent HIV funds Executor of CDC grant money grilled by Fulton County Chairman

the following year’s budget (funds),” Bryan told the Georgia Voice at that time. Fulton’s current problems are common, as health departments across the country have been adjusting to the CDC’s decision in 2012 to change policy by shifting hundreds of millions of dollars in prevention funds away from the states and moving the money directly to the local level.

By PATRICK SAUNDERS The Fulton County Commission has ordered a full audit of the county health department following mismanagement of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) grant money earmarked for HIV prevention efforts. Fulton is in the center of one of the nation’s hardest hit areas in terms of new HIV infections. The order follows an investigation by WABE that revealed the department had failed to spend some $8.7 million of $20 million in CDC grant money it had received since 2012. As to the source of the problems, all parties point to Dr. Patrice Harris, director of health services for Fulton County, who, as principal investigator of the grant, is responsible for executing the county’s HIV prevention strategy. Grant money executor grilled by Fulton County Chairman Harris appeared before Fulton County Board Chairman John Eaves and the rest of the commission in a tense June 17 meeting, where Eaves grilled her. Harris claimed that the county was approved for $28 million of CDC grant money for 2012 to 2015, and that $7 million of that had been returned. She also said they had made a carryover request to the CDC, or a request to recoup the funds that were returned, in the amount of $2.1 million. “To me if we got $28 million, first of all I’d be jumping up and down, and then I’d do everything in my power and my means to make sure as much of this money if not all of this money is utilized,” Eaves said. “And even though you’re seeing the potential of $2.1 of the $7 million that we can recapture, to me that’s still going to leave a balance of $5 million. That’s a lot of money.” Eaves went on to question Harris’ claims that these numbers were reported

Fulton County Commission Chairman John Eaves says ‘extreme disappointment’ was his initial reaction to news of the county’s mismanagement of HIV funds. (File photo)

“We’re going to get to the bottom of it and find out why these moneys were not expended, especially considering the gravity of the HIV/ AIDS problem in Fulton County.” —Fulton County Commission Chairman John Eaves to the county manager, and then asked her whether she felt this was a good reflection on the Fulton County government. “It is not, commissioner, certainly,” Harris replied. “Nor me.” History of mismanagement of HIV prevention funds in Fulton County This isn’t the first time an agency in Georgia has had trouble allocating funds for HIV prevention. Local HIV/AIDS activists complained in 2011 about the Georgia Department of Public Health’s HIV Unit, whose responsibility it is to distribute CDC funds to state health departments and HIV/AIDS agencies. At

that time, a CDC spokesperson told the Georgia Voice millions in HIV prevention funds were being returned. “From fiscal year 2007 through fiscal year 2009, the Georgia Department of Public Health averaged an annual award of approximately $7.93 million and requested to carryover funds on an average of 8 percent [or about $634,000] per year,” CDC spokesperson Scott Bryan told the Georgia Voice in 2011. “Essentially, if a health department has unspent funds at the end of the year, that money is returned to CDC. The state health department can request those unspent funds be carried over and added to

‘We’re going to get to the bottom of it’ When asked by Georgia Voice what his initial reaction was to the mismanagement of funds by the Fulton County Health Department, Chairman Eaves responded, “Extreme disappointment.” Eaves, who along with fellow commissioner Joan Garner will be two of the elected officials pairing up with HIV-positive youth for the Equality Foundation of Georgia’s upcoming HIV Youth Policy Advisors Program, vows to make things right. “We’re going to get to the bottom of it and find out why these moneys were not expended, especially considering the gravity of the HIV/AIDS problem in Fulton County,” he said. “The larger issue is why we weren’t informed about this. Why didn’t we know about it? I feel that the department heads that oversee the dollars are responsible for informing the board, especially in situations like this where there’s problems.” Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality and a member of the Georgia HIV Prevention Community Planning Group, says the Fulton County Commission has acted appropriately considering the degree of urgency in the matter. “We certainly need to know what all the problems have been to move forward, but we need to move forward quickly,” he told Georgia Voice. “It is appropriate to do an audit and take a look at things system-wide. I would hope that doesn’t delay the implementation of some changes that hopefully could take place in the next month or two so this program can get back on track.” Chairman Eaves won’t put a timetable on the audit at this point, citing a need for feedback from Fulton County Auditor Anthony Nicks, but does say, “We’ll find out very shortly.”

6 News June 26, 2015 www.thegeorgiavoice.com


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3/25/15 3:54 PM


GEORGIANEWS

More than just ‘I do’ Jennifer Sisson, her widow and a death certificate to be made right By PATRICK SAUNDERS When marriage equality becomes the law of the land in Georgia, thousands of samesex couples across the state will line up to exchange vows. That’s the picture everyone will have in their minds and on their social media feeds that day—happy couples, flowers, uninhibited enthusiasm. But another victory—no less important or profound—will also take place, and it won’t be in a county probate court or a chapel or an elaborately decorated event space. It will happen in a nondescript room at the State Office of Vital Records, when the marital status on the death certificate of Pam Drenner will be updated from “single” to “married.” A few days later, her widow Jennifer Sisson—a plaintiff in Georgia’s federal class action lawsuit challenging the state’s 2004 same-sex marriage ban—will receive that death certificate. An egregious wrong will finally be made right. A relationship begins...eventually Sisson, a 35-year-old engineer who lives in Decatur, and Drenner’s relationship wasn’t exactly a story of love at first sight. In fact, it wasn’t even love at first decade. They met through mutual friends around late 2001. They ran into each other every so often thereafter, but didn’t spend any significant amount of time together. But come 2011, circumstances had changed for both, and a relationship bloomed. Sisson’s low-key, almost soft-spoken personality and fierce intelligence paired up well

“Even sitting there that day with them telling me that, I was just completely dumbfounded. I was Pam’s full-time caregiver. I’d spent six or seven months solely 24 hours a day caring for Pam and I feel like that type of commitment only comes with something like a marriage.” —Jennifer Sisson with the more extroverted Drenner. “She was very unique, very dynamic, funny. She made everyone laugh. She was always very creative so you never knew what each day was going to bring. You were always entertained, always doing something. She was rarely bored. If she got bored she developed some new adventure for everybody to go on, and sometimes that would incorporate the whole neighborhood. Very intelligent.” They married on Valentine’s Day in 2013 in New York. Six weeks later, Drenner went in for a follow-up for the ovarian cancer she had first been diagnosed with in 2008, and newlywed bliss came to an immediate halt. The cancer was back. Drenner went through several treatments over the following year. They didn’t take. She died on March 1, 2014, leaving behind not only Sisson, but also Drenner’s two children from a previous marriage. ‘He tells me the state of Georgia doesn’t recognize our marriage’ The day after Drenner’s death, Sisson went to the funeral home with a friend and Drenner’s 18-year-old son Evan. She began filling out a form that would

Sisson, 35, hopes to get closure when same-sex marriage is legalized and Georgia recognizes her and her late wife’s nuptials. (Photo by Patrick Saunders)

provide the information for Drenner’s death certificate, not hesitating when she got to the section on marital status. She checked “married,” filled in her name as the spouse, and gave the form to the funeral home employee. “He tells me the state of Georgia doesn’t recognize our marriage,” Sisson says. They went back and forth, with Sisson understandably unwilling to say her late wife was single, widowed or divorced. The only other option available was a box called “unknown.” Sisson checked it and they left. One day a few weeks later, Sisson got a letter in the mail from the State Office of Vital Records. She opened it and pulled out Drenner’s death certificate. Under marital status, it said “single.” Apparently, “unknown” defaults to “single” in the state’s system. And their marriage wasn’t legally recognized by the state, so there was nothing to be done. The state of Georgia had erased Drenner and Sisson’s marriage. “Even sitting there that day with them telling me that, I was just completely dumbfounded,” she says. “I was Pam’s full-time caregiver. I’d spent six or seven months solely 24 hours a day caring for Pam and I feel like that type of commitment only comes with something like a marriage.” Taking a cue from her late wife, she sprang into action.

‘It’s a chance to write a different ending to the story’ It was April 22, 2014, less than two months since Sisson had said goodbye to her wife. She stood in a conference room in Midtown with three other couples (a fourth would join them a few months later) and a team of attorneys from Lambda Legal. She looked out at an army of local and national press who eagerly waited to hear from the plaintiffs at the center of the federal classaction lawsuit filed that morning challenging Georgia’s 2004 same-sex marriage ban. Now it’s in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court, with a decision to come down any day now. Beth Littrell, senior attorney for Lambda Legal, says, “If the Supreme Court recognizes that state marriage bans violate the constitutional rights of same-sex couples, we expect Defendant [state registrar Deborah] Aderhold to issue a corrected certificate reflecting the reality that Pam Drenner was married to Jennifer Sisson at the time of her death.” Sisson can’t help but smile at the thought. “I think it is a sense of closure. Also kind of a disbelief of, ‘Man, look at this path I just came down. Did this really happen?’ Because from that moment in the funeral home, I’ve never felt so alone and just so much against me. And yet to come out on the other side of that less than a year and a half later, I think there will certainly be a little bit of ‘We did it.’”

8 News June 26, 2015 www.thegeorgiavoice.com



Local, national activists decry AID Atlanta and AHF alliance CONTINUED FROM PAGE 4 nization needed to team up with another in order to remain sustainable. “Significant debt” was one reason AID Atlanta sought to become an affiliate of AHF, Hughey acknowledged in an interview with Georgia Voice, but he declined to use exact numbers. “We are in a good position and will still need to strengthen our donor base to increase the people we serve in the Atlanta and Newnan communities,” Hughey said. AHF did not assume all of AID Atlanta’s debt. Hughey, who came on board to head AID Atlanta in February after the resignation of Jose Diaz, said AID Atlanta had strayed from its mission and he feels AHF is the “solid partner” it needs to return focus to the mission of serving HIV/AIDS clients in the metro Atlanta region. “I’ve met with as many community leaders as I can, I’ve met with every one of our 21 grantors, and each and every one is in support of this. I think this is a great opportunity for us to be a solid anchor,” he said. Hughey stressed that AID Atlanta would

an international volunteer group. “AHF is not taking over anything to my understanding, and I have a clear understanding. What we are is an affiliate. What AHF wants is to get people tested, linked to care and into care. We will still be AID Atlanta,” Hughey said.

National HIV activist and former AID Atlanta staff member Mark King said AHF is the ‘most dangerous entity in the HIV arena right now.’ (Courtesy photo)

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AID Atlanta wants to link HIV-positive patients to care What Hughey considers the biggest benefit of affiliating with AHF is AHF’s focus on getting 20 million people with HIV linked to care, he said. Atlanta ASOs do talk a lot about the need for HIV testing, but there is not a lot of talk about the ability to get those who test positive into care, Hughey said. “I don’t think we are having enough conversations about that. What AHF does regardless of a person’s ability to pay is to get them into care. This is a mission we all need to be focused on. The numbers vary, but some 16,000 [HIV-positive] people are not in care, and another 17,000 to 18,000 do not know they are HIV positive and are not in care,” he said.

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10 News June 26, 2015 www.thegeorgiavoice.com


Join Macy’s as we Celebrate Family + Friends + Love + Life + Equality + Respect We are proud to join the parade across America in honor of National Pride Month. We think it’s really something to celebrate. Plus, join us in supporting The Trevor Project this year! The Trevor Project provides life-saving crisis intervention for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth.

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4/16/15 1:44 PM


NEWSBRIEFS Atlanta Pride announces grand marshals, site for kickoff party Atlanta Pride may be some four months away, but organizers are giving the public a sneak peek of what to expect when the fest takes place Oct. 10–11. This year the Atlanta Pride Committee received 70 nominations for grand marshal, the most ever. Those selected to lead the parade on Oct. 11 are: Atlanta Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (AGLCC); Swami Jaya Devi Bhagavati; Stefani Blackmon; Ulester Douglas; La Trina P. Jackson; Raynae Jones; Gus Kaufman Jr., Ph.D.; Tracee McDaniel; Daniel Ashley Pierce; Southern Jewish Resource Network for Gender and Sexual Diversity (SOJOURN); Charles Henry Stevens; and Trans* and Friends. “The honorees for 2015 represent a wonderful cross-section of the work being done in our LGBTQ community,” said Atlanta Pride Committee Executive Director Buck Cooke in a statement. “From Pride organizing to transgender activism, from education to commerce, these individuals are changing the way that LGBTQ Georgians live their lives and experience equality across our state.” The APC also announced the Georgia Aquarium will host the official kickoff party on Friday, Oct. 9. This is the sixth year Atlanta Pride has held its kickoff party at the popular tourist attraction. DJ Brandon Moses and Atlanta favorite VJ Diablo Rojo will be providing the beats for the party. Atlanta police investigating violent robbery of gay man in Midtown Atlanta police are investigating a violent robbery that occurred recently in Midtown, in which an unidentified assailant pistol-whipped a gay man, sending him to the hospital with facial lacerations. Mamdouh Shawky, 28, and a friend had left the Caribou Coffee at 10th Street and Piedmont Avenue and were walking down Argonne Avenue on the way to the Atlanta Eagle around 11 p.m. on June 9 when two men confronted them. “This one guy came behind us and came really close holding his gun and then another guy came around the front of us and then they just asked us to give them everything,” Shawky told Georgia Voice. Shawky said he gave them his wallet and phone, but then things got worse. “The guy that came in the front started

Atlanta Pride will once again host its official kickoff party at the Georgia Aquarium. This year’s party is set for Oct. 9. (File photo)

hitting my friend and then the other one behind my back, he came with his gun and put it near my face,” he said. “After that he hit me in my face, in my eyebrow.” The suspects fled and the victims went to a nearby house for help, where neighbors called 911. The two went to Grady Hospital, where Shawky received stitches for a facial laceration caused by the suspect pistol-whipping him. Shawky said there was no indication the crime was motivated by his sexual orientation. The experience has left him second-guessing himself. “I don’t know why I didn’t just take an Uber or something. Argonne Avenue is not very safe, obviously,” he said, adding, “I go out in Midtown a lot and yeah, I would not walk again in Midtown or anywhere for that matter. It’s not a good experience.” The incident comes as another in a long line of crimes in Midtown, with a recent 11 Alive report showing a major spike in the area in the first four months of 2015 compared to 2014. Atlanta police have reported no bias crimes based on sexual orientation or gender identity so far this year. Georgia Equality joins coalition to mourn shooting victims Statewide LGBT advocacy organization Georgia Equality joined with the Rainbow PUSH Coalition in a June 19 press conference to mourn the victims of the Charleston church shooting and make a renewed call for hate crimes legislation. The Rainbow PUSH

Coalition is a civil rights, social justice and political activism organization founded by Rev. Jesse Jackson in 1971. The press conference followed the June 17 incident in which Dylann Roof, 21, sat through a prayer meeting at the historically black Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, before opening fire, killing nine people, including the pastor, Clementa Pinckney, who was also a state senator. Roof, who is white, is in custody and has confessed to the murders, saying he wanted to start a race war, according to CNN. “I think as we’re seeing across the nation, particularly with different people with different perspectives coming together, we’re seeing that when there’s a difference in culture, whether it’s a difference in the color of skin or difference in beliefs, there are forces at will that we feel…are promoting hate and they’re creating a culture of hate. And we stand against any form of hate,” said Amanda Hill-Atkisson, deputy director of Georgia Equality. Rob Woods, senior field organizer for Georgia Equality, added, “There are five states in the nation that don’t have hate crime laws, and that is where we see an absolute link of where we need to be more cooperative. We felt that by coming out and supporting Rainbow PUSH and speaking out against the violence, this is a good intersectional place for us to start a dialogue and work towards issues in the legislature and in our communities and overall build a stronger human bond versus this ‘us and them’ relationship that we have.”

12 News June 26, 2015 www.thegeorgiavoice.com


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Outspoken PO Box 77401 • Atlanta, GA 30357 P: 404-815-6941; F: 404-963-6365

Editorial

Editor: Dyana Bagby dbagby@thegavoice.com

Coming full circle

Editorial Contributors: Melissa Carter, Jim Farmer, Vandy Beth Glenn, Shannon Hames, Bill Kaelin, Ryan Lee, Charles Stephens, Simon Williamson

Fight for marriage equality bookends my memorable career in LGBT journalism

Production

By DYANA BAGBY

Deputy Editor: Patrick Saunders psaunders@thegavoice.com

Art Director: Rob Boeger rboeger@thegavoice.com

Business

Publisher: Tim Boyd tboyd@thegavoice.com Managing Partner: Christina Cash ccash@thegavoice.com

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Sales Executive: Anne Clarke aclarke@thegavoice.com Sales Executive: Dixon Taylor dtaylor@thegavoice.com Sales Executive: Christopher Stephens cstephens@thegavoice.com Business Advisor: Lynn Pasqualetti Financial Firm of Record: HLM Financial Group National Advertising: Rivendell Media, 908-232-2021 sales@rivendellmedia.com

Fine Print

All material in the Georgia Voice is protected by federal copyright law and may not be reproduced without the written consent of the Georgia Voice. The sexual orientation of advertisers, photographers, writers and cartoonists published herein is neither inferred nor implied. The appearance of names or pictorial representation does not necessarily indicate the sexual orientation of that person or persons. We also do not accept responsibility for claims made by advertisers. Unsolicited editorial material is accepted by the Georgia Voice, but we do not take responsibility for its return. The editors reserve the right to accept, reject or edit any submission. Guidelines for freelance contributors are available upon request. A single copy of the Georgia Voice is available from authorized distribution points. Multiple copies are available from the Georgia Voice office only. Call for rates. If you are unable to reach a convenient free distribution point, you may receive a 26-issue mailed subscription for $60 per year. Checks or credit card orders can be sent to Tim Boyd, tboyd@thegavoice.com Postmaster: Send address changes to the Georgia Voice, PO Box 77401, Atlanta, GA 30357. The Georgia Voice is published every other Friday by The Georgia Voice, LLC. Individual subscriptions are $60 per year for 26 issues. Postage paid at Atlanta, GA, and additional mailing offices. The editorial positions of the Georgia Voice are expressed in editorials and in editor’s notes. Other opinions are those of the writers and do not necessarily represent the opinion of the Georgia Voice and its staff. To submit a letter or commentary: Letters should be fewer than 400 words and commentary, for web or print, should be fewer than 750 words. Submissions may be edited for content and length, and must include a name, address and phone number for verification. Email submissions to editor@thegavoice.com or mail to the address above.

14 Outspoken June 26, 2015

The first LGBT equality rally I attended in Atlanta was on Feb. 14, 2004. A few hundred people stood in the rain on the steps of the state Capitol to decry the General Assembly’s attempt to write discrimination into the state constitution by drafting an amendment to ban same-sex marriage. This was not a joyful rally, of course, but it was thrilling to stand there and hear from so many people I had read about in local newspapers, including the (now shuttered) Southern Voice. While there, I also looked around for the reporters whose work I had been reading and admiring. I thought, wouldn’t it be great if someday I could be one of those reporters, writing about something as important as the fight for equality? ••• I became a reporter straight out of college, some (cough) 20 years ago, at the Herald-Citizen, an afternoon daily (except Saturdays) newspaper in the small Tennessee town of Cookeville. At that paper, I learned how to listen, ask questions, write a compelling lede, take photographs and cover controversial stories (fairly) objectively. I loved the adrenaline rush that hummed through my veins during a breaking story, making me feel alive. Most importantly, I loved the people who shared their intimate stories with me, so I could in turn write and share them with the rest of the world. That responsibility is humbling, and I will always be proud to have borne it. When I decided to live my life openly as a gay person, I packed my bags and cats into my dusty Nissan Sentra and headed for the LGBT mecca of the South: Atlanta. I was soon able to find a job at the Gwin-

I tion. to arg an ex just a the e Bu troub dicio such to Bi Broo N Today, I’m saying goodbye and leaving hous this job to a new generation of journalists swing who have the drive, the energy and the talent rando to lead this newspaper into an exciting era and t of reporting on the stories that spell out the fights we still have to face while also celebrating the sweet victories. One such victory is marriage equality. Like many activists, I never imagined Georgia would be poised to have marriage equality, along with the rest of the nation, just 10 years after that somber day in 2004. As a state, as a country, we have come full circle when it comes to marriage equality. My career as a gay journalist has also come full circle. I’ve covered more than a few rallies, and will be covering at least one more before I officially hang up my fedora. I be- Fo lieve being here for the very end of a story I com that’s been ongoing since the start of my ca- doesn reer is an excellent way to close my career, yet h step down and find something new to do. C I’m not sure what that entails, but I look for- It’s so ward to restarting while also remaining ac- then tive in our movement. that a I know there is still so much to do. Not uisite only in the fight for LGBT equality, but for Even full equality for all of us. We have only to look space at the church massacre by a racist gunman in W Charleston, S.C. and the numerous police conn shootings of unarmed black men in this coun- that c try to know a federal victory does not mean ter a s complete victory for any marginalized com- perso munity. Please, stay vigilant. prom Thank you for the memories and for shar- hug, ing your stories. They all remain in my heart. tion.

“I armed myself with a keyboard and camera and began my career in LGBT journalism in 2004, just months before the crushing defeat we were handed when 78 percent of Georgia voters essentially said to us, ‘We don’t like you.’” nett Daily Post, and was back in the groove of working for a daily newspaper. During this time, I also found the Southern Voice and was amazed and so glad there was an entire newspaper devoted to reporting on issues facing LGBT people, people like me, and that there was a community that supported this newspaper. ••• When the General Assembly decided it was time to let Georgia voters decide on a ban of same-sex marriage—and codify it into the state’s constitution—I knew I wanted to be part of the fight against it. I was angry and hurt. After all, I left small town Tennessee for big city Georgia to be able to live my life openly, and now legislators were telling me and all other LGBT people that we were wrong for wanting equality because their God said so. Believe me, I’d had enough of my own dealings with God—trying to pray the gay away, forcing myself to date men, etc.—that this attitude pissed me off. I armed myself with a keyboard and camera and began my career in LGBT journalism in 2004, just months before the crushing defeat we were handed when 78 percent of Georgia voters essentially said to us, “We don’t like you.” ••• When I became deputy editor of Georgia Voice just over five years ago, I was excited to be part of a new vision and so happy to be covering the community I love. Then I became editor, fulfilling a dream of heading up one of the best LGBT newspapers in the country.

www.thegeorgiavoice.com


OUT IN THE WILD

By Simon Williamson

Panic at the Disco. Well, concert. Simon Williamson lives with his federally-recognized spouse in the wild yonder of Newton County. Follow him on Twitter at @simonwillo. I am not someone who fears confrontation. I usually believe I am right, I am happy to argue with just about anyone, and I have an explosive temper like a rodeo bull (that’s just a metaphor—a cowboy on top of me has the exact opposite effect, actually). But I am also smart enough to stay out of trouble, or a fight I can’t win, so I am quite judicious about when to exercise my fury. One such moment arrived during a recent trip to Birmingham, Alabama, to watch a Garth Brooks concert with my husband, Mike. Now, I get we were on away turf. But our household is a country-music-loving, porchswinging, tea-slurping crib, strewn with random bugs we try to get the dog to eat, and three separate barbecues. So although a

“We prefer our activists to be warm and to connect with ease. We take comfort in those that can work a room. The people that can enter a space, command it with the force of their personality, exude confidence, and with little prompting, walk up to anyone, give them a hug, and seamlessly engage them in conversation.” For some reason people are surprised when I come out as an introvert. I suppose my work doesn’t lend itself to being an introvert, and yet here I am. Charisma does not come naturally for me. It’s something I have to work up to. And even then it doesn’t always quite land. I’ve found that a certain type of charisma is the prerequisite for leadership in many activist circles. Even in the most radical and non-hierarchical spaces, the alphas still always seem to rule. We prefer our activists to be warm and to connect with ease. We take comfort in those that can work a room. The people that can enter a space, command it with the force of their personality, exude confidence, and with little prompting, walk up to anyone, give them a hug, and seamlessly engage them in conversation. I don’t think I’ve ever been this person. www.thegeorgiavoice.com

gay couple aren’t your average attendees at a Garth Brooks show, a Garth Brooks show isn’t exactly alien to our own milieu. While standing in line for beer before the show began, a group of three in the line next to ours decided to make fun of my husband’s shoes. Other than being able to describe the length of pants (shorts or short shorts), I don’t know anything about fashion and have no idea why they zoomed in on his shoes, which to me look as normal as the Braves losing to the Mets. Anyone who has been on the receiving end of this sort of asinine deprecation knows it has little to do with shoes and a lot more to do with the fact that two men who are obviously a couple were in a place where “regular folks” don’t often have to deal with them.

And thus began the vexing emotional entanglement that went on in my head: Snap back and open a Pandora’s Box into potential risk I couldn’t predict, or sit there and take it. And I sat there and took it. I sat there and took it because I had no idea what would happen if we got into an entanglement. A gay foreigner with his Yankee husband clad in mystifyingly remarkable shoes (literally they are gray slip-on shoes), going at “regular folks” at a show put on by the most “regular” person in America—how does that end? We don’t know, because we decided it was too risky to approach a trio of douchebags. We both knew this had very little to do with shoes, and a lot to do with who was wearing them, and the environment in

“If looks could kill, three people would have been cooked medium to well by the time I finished aiming telepathic vitriol at them, but defending ourselves in places we don’t really belong comes with more risks than your average public scene. We stood there. And let it happen.” which they were being worn. If looks could kill, three people would have been cooked medium to well by the time I finished aiming telepathic vitriol at them, but defending ourselves in places we don’t really belong comes with more risks than your average public scene. We stood there. And let it happen. We’re gaining rights and doing well, especially if the epicenter of your life is the right to wed the person you love. But the simple act of being unable, through fear, to respond to a dickhead trichotomy was a little window into the simple and inherent danger in which LGBT people can find themselves, just because they also want to jive along to the biggest selling artist America has ever known.

THE ICONOCLAST

By Charles Stephens

Queer activism for introverts Charles Stephens is the Director of Counter Narrative and co-editor of ‘Black Gay Genius: Answering Joseph Beam’s Call.’ I’m definitely not a hugger. Well at least not at first. It’s not that I don’t want to touch others, but rather my tendency especially at first, is to be formal. It takes me a while to warm up. I really appreciate affection once I become comfortable with someone. But it does not come naturally or easily in unfamiliar spaces. I also don’t thrive on small talk. The beforethe-meeting part can be excruciating. Especially when everyone already seems to know everyone else in the room. Thank God for smartphones. People that haven’t received a text from me in decades suddenly become the most important people in the world. They suddenly get bombarded with my text messages as I try to navigate my social discomfort by attempting to distract myself. Don’t get me wrong, I like meeting new people, but it’s much easier when there is a point of shared common interest already established.

Leadership workshops can also be challenging. I find that a lot of team-building and skills-building activities are geared toward extroverts. There is an assumption in leadership coaching that effective leadership and big personalities go hand in hand. I of course reject this. Where is the leadership training that caters more to those of us that are introverts? I’ve learned that when I try to suppress my discomfort with crowds and large groups, I come off as extremely arrogant, or even intimidating. My quirkiness also becomes more apparent. Though it’s considered “cool” for a certain type of white guy to be quirky, for Black men, it’s a different story. As of recent, I’ve become more self-aware around being an introvert. I’ve also become more politicized around it—well I mean, I am an activist and the personal is political, so why

not? I’m especially resistant to any notion that leadership means you have to always have a big personality or that you have to always be “on” all of the time. We don’t all have to work the crowd, shaking hands and kissing babies. Let me also be clear, being an introvert does not mean you don’t like people or that you don’t like being around people. I think the difference is more that being an introvert just means that we prefer to recharge in solitude. We may appreciate and even love being around others, but we also need time away, time to ourselves. Though it has taken me a long time, I’ve come to understand that social movements require all types of styles and talents, skills and gifts. Most critically I’ve come to understand, that, there is even a place for those of us that are more introverted. June 26, 2015 Outspoken 15


CATCHING UP WITH …

Dani Lee Harris Longtime Atlanta police officer opens up about lawsuit and why he’s leaving the force By PATRICK SAUNDERS Name a trial or a tribulation and Dani Lee Harris can probably top it. Raised by a single mother on welfare in the projects in Harlem, New York. Shuffled through the foster care system. Lost a mother to lupus at age 17. Came out as intersex. The latest tribulation (that almost led to a real trial) was a years-long odyssey that started in 2009. Harris, who prefers he/him pronouns, was then six years into a career as an officer with the Atlanta Police Department and four years in as the department’s LGBT liaison when he made comments critical of the department’s handling of the unconstitutional raid on the Atlanta Eagle. The following April, he filed a complaint alleging anti-gay bias by an APD administrative assistant. Two days later he was sent home, the department later saying he was put on medical leave due to two grand mal seizures he had had in recent months. This was despite Harris’ claims that he was cleared to work by a doctor. That September, Harris accused the department of “blackballing” him from the job, claiming it was retaliation for his comments about the Eagle raid and the complaint he filed. He was finally allowed back to work that October, but not as an LGBT liaison. Harris, who works in code enforcement for the APD, sued the city in federal court last July. He agreed to a settlement of $140,000 earlier this month, but he didn’t consider the suit completely settled until now. Harris now holds a doctorate in business administration and is a published author and adjunct professor. This week, per Harris’ request, his attorney drew up settlement terms clearing the way for him to leave the force. When did you first think that you wanted to get involved in law enforcement? I think I’ve always known growing up.

“I enjoyed serving the LGBT community, as messy as we can be at times, and as ungrateful [laughs] as we can be at times. As much as we fight, at the end of the day there’s no greater community to serve than those that are constantly having to fight for something.” I’ve always had the inclination that I was supposed to be in law enforcement. I always just wanted to give service that way. So you joined the force in June 2003 and became LGBT liaison in 2005. What were those days like before things started to go south in 2009? Ah man, I tell you it was lovely. Under the [Richard] Pennington administration, he had done such a great job getting rid of the good old boy system. And then me getting the LGBT position and working in his office directly was phenomenal. I loved it. So the Eagle raid happens in September 2009 and you made some comments about the department. Then Mayor Kasim Reed took office in January 2010 and Chief George Turner replaces Chief Pennington. And a few months later, the administrative assistant makes the comments to you. What happened to me within the chief ’s office under Chief Turner is his direct major allowed what happened to me to happen. And that’s Deputy Chief [Erika] Shields. The fact that she allowed her assistant to speak to me in the manner that she spoke to me, instead of her taking the position of “this is wrong,” she took the position of “this is my assistant and I’m going to protect her regardless of how wrong she is.” And that therefore opened up the avenue for the lawsuit.

Dani Lee Harris says he’ll miss serving the LGBT community most. (Photo by Patrick Saunders)

There were two parts that were happening at the same time. One was the Eagle raid in the background and the other one was what happened in the office around the same time, which just made their retaliation that much greater. Then I had the seizure and in turn they told the media that I was out on grand mal seizures. Mind you, I was always cleared by my doctor to come back to work. So you agreed to the dollar amount in the lawsuit, but you don’t consider it settled? It never settled. The reason it was never settled was because I asked for the reserve program with three years of service. They wanted to give me the three years of service but they don’t want me in the reserve program. So the lawsuit is still pending. As a matter of fact, I just called my attorney today and told her to forget the reserve program. I’ll get the three years of service, go ahead and retire at 15 and I’m done with them. I’m done. You just get so disgusted that you keep fighting these people. I talked to my wife about it and she was like, “Do you feel like they won?” I said no, either way they didn’t win but at the end of the day I felt like I should at least be able to get the reserve program. But the other side of

me says that’s a tie that I need to cut. So go ahead and let them have it. Let me go ahead and move on. That’s why I went back to school to get my doctorate. That’s why I went back to school to finish my masters while I was out, just so I can have another avenue and not have to have a tie. So why continuously ask for a tie to this agency when I don’t have to have one? At this point, that’s why I’m letting it go. So you are done with law enforcement completely? I am for now in that capacity, when it comes to policing. I’m going to teach. I do teach right now, I love it. That’s really my passion and my calling. I like adjunct because I’m not really tied to any one school so I’ll continue to do that, and I still do corporate training. What do you think you’ll miss the most about law enforcement? Some of the people. And the community that I served. I enjoyed serving the LGBT community, as messy as we can be at times, and as ungrateful [laughs] as we can be at times, as much as we fight, at the end of the day there’s no greater community to serve than those that are constantly having to fight for something.

16 Community June 26, 2015 www.thegeorgiavoice.com


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June 26, 2015 Ads 17


East Point Possums Over 30 performers graced the stage as the East Point Possums celebrated 18 years of “doing good work through bad drag” on June 13. Roughly 1,000 people were sprawled across the grounds at the Commons in downtown East Point in the benefit for LGBT homeless youth organization Lost-N-Found Youth.—Patrick Saunders

18 Community June 26, 2015

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June 26, 2015 Ads 19


GEORGIA EQUALITY’S

‘Evening for Equality’ Georgia Equality celebrated two decades of fighting for LGBT equality in the state with its 11th annual Evening for Equality on Saturday, June 20, at the InterContinental Buckhead Hotel. More than 300 people showed up to the event that recognized two organizations and a rural Georgia mayor for their work for LGBT equality in the state. —Dyana Bagby

20 Community June 26, 2015 www.thegeorgiavoice.com


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‘Live Out Proud’

at Augusta PrideFestival Sixth annual celebration set for June 26-27 The third-largest city in Georgia is celebrating its third annual Pride festival this weekend, June 26-27, with the Beats on Broadway Dance Party on Friday night and the parade on June 27.

Beats on Broad, “Augusta’s largest outdoor dance party,” will have DJ Kaos on the ones-and-twos with special appearances by “RuPaul’s Drag Race” alums Bebe Zahara Benet and Victoria “Porkchop” Parker. The parade on Saturday steps off promptly at 11 a.m. Approximately 10,000 people attended Augusta Pride in 2014, according to organizers.

“RuPaul’s Drag Race” alums Bebe Zahara Benet and Victoria “Porkchop” Parker will be special guests at this year’s Augusta Pride Parade on Saturday, June 27. (Publicity photos)

Charlotte Pride brings in more than $7 million to city

Details

2015 fest set for Aug. 15-16 in Queen City An economic study of the 2014 Charlotte Pride Festival & Parade showed the weekend event brought in more than $7.75 million in total economic impact to the city from outof-town guests, including $2.49 million in labor income. The study, commissioned by the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, tracked visitors who traveled 50 miles or more to Charlotte Pride and is the first professional study performed for a local LGBT event in the Charlotte region. More than 100,000 people attended last year’s Pride fest, according to organizers. “The LGBTQ community in Charlotte and our surrounding region contribute greatly to the continued economic growth and success of the Queen City,” said Charlotte Pride Co-Director Richard Grimstad in a statement. “As Charlotte Pride enters its 15th consecutive year, we do so knowing that our event has become both a social and economic mainstay for the city we call home.” Among the survey’s and study’s findings: n Of the more than 10,500 out-of-town visitors, nearly 81 percent stayed overnight in Charlotte, with 68 percent of those visitors staying at local hotels.

Charlotte Pride Festival & Parade Aug. 15-16 charlottepride.org lotte to show their pride. In 2013, Charlotte Pride hosted the first local Pride parade in nearly two decades, with more than 40,000 visitors watching the parade and more than 80,000 visitors attending the accompanying two-day festival that weekend. The Prancing Elites will be performing at this year’s Charlotte Pride set for Aug. 15-16. (Photo via Oxygen Media) n More than 77 percent of festival attendees also attended the parade. n The average visitor spent more than $460 per person while visiting the city. n The average length of stay of overnight visitors was 1.7 nights and included 3.4 people. n The largest amount of spending was lodging, followed by food, beverage and retail. n More than 62 percent of attendees spent their dollars shopping, with more than 61 percent spending dollars on local dining.

Diversity is also highlighted in the 2014 survey. Results show: n 53 percent of attendees were female.

n 45 percent of attendees were male. n Two percent of attendees were transgender. n 16 percent identified as straight. n 10 percent identified as bisexual. n 33 percent identified as lesbian. n 41 percent identified as gay. n Nearly 20 percent of attendees were people

of color. Charlotte Pride began as a small festival in 2001. In 2011, the fest attracted 25,000 visitors; in 2012, the event became a two-day celebration and was held one week before the Democratic National Convention. That year, more than 45,000 visitors flocked to Char-

Entertainment lineup—so far More than 100,000 people are expected to attend this year’s festival set for Aug. 15-16. The entertainment lineup so far includes performances by the Prancing Elites, the stars of an Oxygen Media hit TV show, “The Prancing Elites Project.” The five members of this African-American, gay and gender non-conforming J-Sette team gained national recognition first through YouTube and then on the TV talk show circuit before being picked up by Oxygen to star in a reality TV series. And while they have gained a national following, it is in their hometown of Mobile, Alabama, where they continue to face discrimination and bigotry. The Prancing Elites have played numerous Pride fests, including this year’s New York Pride being held June 26-28.

22 LGBT Pride June 26, 2015 www.thegeorgiavoice.com


LGBT

PRIDE BY-THE-NUMBERS

1970 A year after Stonewall, the first Gay Pride March was held in New York by the Christopher Street Liberation Day Committee to commemorate the riots.

100

Estimated number of participants at world’s smallest Pride Parade in the world held in Sligo, Ireland. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the event and, according to the organization’s website, could be its last.

30

Official number of Black Gay Prides in U.S. and also Suriname, South America, and London, UK. www.thegeorgiavoice.com

3,000,000 Estimated number of people attending Sao Paulo LGBT Pride Parade in Brazil. In 2006, the Guinness Book of World Records named this parade the largest pride parade in the world.

12 Number of Atlanta Pride grand marshals for the 2015 fest set for Oct. 10-11 in Piedmont Park.

173 Members of InterPride, an international organization for Prides around the globe.

June 26, 2015 LGBT Pride 23


Save The Date Come get married at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta’s Wedding Day, a community marriage event! Sunday, July 12, 2015 at 2:30 p.m. in the UUCA Sanctuary For more information and to register, visit uuca.org! In addition, UU ministers will be at the Fulton & Dekalb courthouses to officiate ceremonies for couples who wish to marry on the day same-sex marriage becomes legal in Georgia. If the Supreme Court chooses not to recognize universal marriage equality, still join us on July 12 to reaffirm your commitment to your partner with a blessing and celebration.

OUR PAST OUR PRESENT 1990’S ATLANTA PRIDE FESTIVAL

OCTOBER 10-11, 2015 | PIEDMONT PARK | #OURFLAGOUR STORY LEARN MORE ABOUT ATLANTA PRIDE THROUGH THE DECADES AT ATLANTAPRIDE.ORG

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ATLANTA PRIDE 199O’S | IMAGE PROVIDED BY ATLANTA PRIDE COMMITTEE

24 News June 26, 2015 www.thegeorgiavoice.com


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UNBOUND Pioneering gay activist reminisces in new HBO documentary ‘Love & Anger’

By JIM FARMER As someone who was active in New York during the early days of the AIDS crisis, Jean Carlomusto remembers the time well, and now makes documentaries about the era. Her new film “Larry Kramer in Love & Anger” debuts on HBO on June 29. The film charts Kramer’s days in the film industry—writing the screenplay for “Women in Love”—before turning his back on the business and becoming an activist in New York as AIDS began to decimate the community. He was vital in organizations such as ACT UP and Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC), and as a writer, his play “The Normal Heart” is universally adored. Carlomusto, who is out, has known Kramer since the mid-1980s. In late 2010 she was at a reading Kramer gave from his book, “The American People,” and knew the time was right to make a film. “I was so moved at what he was putting forth,” she says. “I said it is time for Larry to get acknowledged and appreciated for what he did. I was sitting next to Dr. Larry CONTINUES ON PAGE 31

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GOLD SPONSOR

SILVER SPONSORS Cox Enterprises Gilead Sciences King & Spalding Making Projects Work Troutman Sanders Wells Fargo NON PROFIT PARTNERS Atlanta Pride Committee Georgia Democrats LGBT Caucus Georgia Hotel & Lodging Association: Atlanta Hotels Council Human Rights Campaign: Atlanta Steering Committee Positive Impact Health Centers SOJOURN: Southern Jewish Resource Network For Gender And Sexual Diversity St. Mark United Methodist Church NON PROFIT ALLIES AIDS Athens SMALL BUSINESS HOSTS Kitchens New Cleghorn Matthew James Duncan Attorney At Law, P.C. Mixit Marketing Stellar Mortgage Corporation AbsoluteCARE S. G. Evans Law MEDIA SPONSORS David Atlanta Fenuxe Magazine Gayborhood The Georgia Voice Project Q Atlanta

EVENING FOR EQUALITY 2015 HOST COMMITTEE

Hal Brody & Don Smith Javier Brown Marvin S. Brown Charles Ballance & John Carson Carla Brown & Randall Cobb Gail Cowie & Jean Spencer Will Davis & Jared Parrish Atlanta City Councilmember Andre Dickens Linda Ellis State Senator Vincent Fort Glen Paul Freedman Jerry & Rep. Pat Gardner Bob Gibeling Barret Broussard & Colton Griffin Michael Grover & Nunzio Lupo Lee Hamel State Representative Scott Holcomb Paul Horning Karen & Magaly Ickes Jones Derek Scheidt & Kevin Isom Carla Johnson State Representative Margaret Kaiser & Charlie Stadtlander Josh Kenyon Sandy & Tonya Keith Casey Lawing Ryan Lee Mike Lorton & Gary Youngblood Greg Loughlin Ken Manford & Jeffrey Roach Suzanne Marks Joshua Mcnair & Marykay Mentzer Chris Morter Jamal & Kenyatta Mitchell Zach Nikonovich-kahn Atlanta City Councilwoman Mary Norwood Lance Orchid Senator Elena Parent Ed Patterson & Steve Richards Rodger Marks & Jack Pelham Seth & Nathan Woodard Persily Drew Plant & Bill Golden David Poole - AHF Joe Porter & Carter Elliott Drs. Adrian Amin & Joshua Reynolds Sally Ringo & Michele Tanner Claudio Ruiz Ricky Simone: The Hip Hop Activist Joe Royals & Kent Ouellette Beth Schapiro & Janet Womack Will Sellers Michael D. Shutt & Brian Madej Nicholas Smith & Jorge Cruz Jason Stanford Atlanta City Council Member Alex Wan & Joe Bechely Kyle Williams & Larry Kosten Kathleen Womack & Dyana Bagby Cathy Woolard & Karen Geney Melvin Hutcheson & Billy Wooten Colin Wright Eric Wright & Tony Bayles Doug Busk & Cindy Zeldin

26 News June 26, 2015 www.thegeorgiavoice.com


ACTING OUT

By JIM FARMER

Creepy, kooky and coming to Atlanta While many local theater companies go dark for the summer, OnStage Atlanta is making the most of the season. In its Decatur digs, the company is finishing a rare staging of the drama, “Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean,” directed by DeWayne Morgan, and is about to open “The Addams Family Musical.” The show brings together the popular characters from the franchise, including Wednesday, who has grown up and wants to date (ahem) someone normal. We caught up with the show’s out director, Charlie Miller, to talk about the show’s resonance and the camp appeal of Morticia. GA Voice: How familiar with these characters are you? Miller: I watched the TV series as a kid— I think a lot of us did—and then the movies in the early ’90s. It’s always been part of something I was familiar with. Tell us briefly about its history as a musical. When the [2010] Broadway show came out, I was super excited. Apparently it had some issues on Broadway so they had to retool it, re-do some songs. We are doing the tour version. I think it’s amazing. Is the musical more based on the TV series or the “Addams Family” films? The musical is based on characters from the comics. All versions have the same characters but for the musical they went to the source material. In the TV show, Wednesday is a kid but in the musical she is grown up, has a boyfriend and is about to get married. The whole family is there—Morticia, Gomez, Lurch, Grandma, Pugsley, Fester. It isn’t written to have Cousin Itt or have Thing, but there are places we can potentially put them in. I am not sure I will be able to do that, but we are still some weeks from opening. What is the biggest challenge? I’d have to say the size. It’s huge for our size of stage. There are 18 people in the show. Costuming them all, dealing with multiple locations—it’s like problem solving to the thousandth power, because there are www.thegeorgiavoice.com

Olivia Kaye Sloan (as Morticia) and Janine DeMichele Baggett (as Wednesday) are among the familiar characters Atlanta audiences can expect. (Photo courtesy OnStage Atlanta)

Details

‘The Addams Family Musical’ OnStage Atlanta 2969 East Ponce De Leon Ave. Decatur, GA 30030 July 10–August 16 www.onstageatlanta.com so many things to figure out. The show is meant for a Broadway stage. We are pulling it down to a 100-seat theater, but still trying to tell the same story so the audience can follow what is going on and none of the fun and spectacle is lost. What is the LGBT appeal of this musical? First, it’s a musical with dance and comedy. Morticia is a gay icon and she’s been for years. She is sexy and powerful and strong

and beautiful and dark, all wrapped into one. The actress playing her will be wearing her tight, black mermaid dress. It’s also campy and fun. The thing that makes the show funny for me is that [the family] are considered weird and kooky and strange, but look closely and they are just like everyone else. You can identify with them. I think everyone is a little quirky and weird, regardless of where you are in life. How long have you been with OnStage Atlanta? I’ve been with OnStage since 2008. I’ve directed a lot, including “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” and “Young Frankenstein,” both of which won the Metropolitan Atlanta Theater Awards for Best Musical. Acting-wise, I’ve done 15–20 roles, including the lead in “The Drowsy Chaperone.” But I’ve had my hand in everything. June 26, 2015 Columnists 27


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By Terri Schlichenmeyer

The battle to defeat Prop 8

REVIE W Third finger, left hand. If you’re wearing a ring there, chances are that it means more than a bit of metal around your digit. It’s undoubtedly more precious than the sum of its parts. It means a commitment of marriage— that is, if you can get married, because some still cannot. And in the new book “Speak Now” by Kenji Yoshino, you’ll read about a trial that impacted many an engagement. Just before Kenji Yoshino married his husband Ron in 2009, the officiant pulled the couple aside and reminded them that, though they were really no different than any other two people in love, he could not marry them under federal law because of DOMA. As they said their vows in Connecticut, another legal drama on the other side of the country was just beginning … Only four states recognized same-sex marriage then; California wasn’t one of them. In 2008, that state’s voters passed Proposition 8, effectively amending its constitution to allow legal marriage between opposite-sex couples only. A legal challenge to Prop 8 was filed in California in May of 2009, which ultimately opened the doors for an unlikely pair of lawyers to take the issue to the U.S. Supreme Court. Attorney Ted Olson was famous for helping to put George Bush in office in 2000, and had worked in Ronald Reagan’s Justice Department. Though Olson was known for his conservative stance, he was friends with David Boies, a renowned, more liberal litigator. They seized the opportunity to argue this important case together, and began laying the foundation for it. But their unusual pairing wasn’t the only uniqueness in Hollingsworth v. Perry: The judge assigned to the case was known to be gay. Lead counsel for defense of Prop 8 had once flirted with a pro baseball career. Both sides tried to keep direct mentions of sex out of the courtroom. In the end, children played a large part. And, though neither side wanted it, the case went to trial. That last point, says author Kenji Yoshi-

Details ‘Speak Now:

Marriage Equality on Trial’ By Kenji Yoshino Crown, 2015 $26 384 pages no, came as the biggest surprise. Issues such as same-sex marriage very seldom go to trial; both parties usually try to avoid it long before things ever get that far. But Yoshino’s fascination—and the indepth examination he offers on Hollingsworth v. Perry—becomes a mixed bag in “Speak Now.” On one hand, there are heartfelt examples of people who would most benefit from the defeat of Prop 8, as told from the exciting perspective of a major courtroom drama; on the other hand, there’s a lot of legalese here that is only partially explained in layman’s terms. We’re treated to detailed, sometimes happy human-interest stories (including the authors’ own), followed by information that will send many readers scrambling for a legal dictionary. Oy. Still, despite that near-obstacle, I think this book is worthwhile—if nothing but for the significance of the case it highlights. Read carefully, don’t rush yourself, have a legal reference source handy, and “Speak Now” is a book you won’t want left on the shelf.

28 A&E June 26, 2015 www.thegeorgiavoice.com



EATING MY WORDS By CLIFF BOSTOCK

Krog Street Market musings “Holy crap!” I announced, “I just spent nearly $30 in a food court.” “Yeah, well, I just spent $21,” my friend Frank said, pointing at his sandwich and fries. It was Friday night. We were taking our seats with two other friends in the Krog Street Market (99 Krog St.), the 30,000-square-foot behemoth of trendy dining in Inman Park. Four full-service restaurants like Cockentrice and Craft Izakaya anchor the renovated mill, but the cavernous center space houses bars and food stalls. You fetch your food and seek a table in a gloomy seating area. Since I last wrote about KSM, a new stall, Gu’s Dumplings, has opened. Please read my lips: Do not bother. The stall is the successor to the fabulous Gu’s Bistro, where some of the city’s best Szechuan cuisine was served until its closing in early March. Everyone presumed an abbreviated menu of the same spicy food would be featured at KSM. Not. I visited once, a couple of weeks after its opening, and was shocked by the mainly flavorless dumplings, the overcooked chicken, and the mediocre noodles. And it was all ridiculously overpriced. I’ve had no reports that it’s improved, so last Friday I demanded that my friends not go near the place. Instead we went to Fred’s Meat and Bread and Yalla! I was especially anxious to try the latter, since I’d eaten at Fred’s once before. Yalla, like Fred’s, is owned by the folks who operate General Muir, including renowned chef Todd Ginsberg. While the menu has been simplified, the dizzying number of condiments can still be pretty confusing. The main deal here is sandwiches made with either pita pockets or their larger flatbread cousin, laffa. Think Israeli tacos and burritos. I mistakenly thought the pita versions would be smallish, so I ordered two—one with falafel and the other with kabobs of ground lamb. Overkill. The falafel was wonderfully crispy—at first. However, it was overwhelmed by condiments of hummus, labne (a thick yogurt spread with the whey removed), tahini, Israeli salad (cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, mint) and zhug (a delicious hot sauce of roasted jalapenos and spices). If I were you, I’d order an extra shot of the zhug.

Yalla is a modern Middle Eastern food stall at Krog Street Market. (Photo via Facebook)

The same problem arose with my lamb pita—actually more so, since the kabobs were, not unexpectedly, oily. It was spread with baba ganoush, the Israeli salad, a slice of super-thin roasted eggplant, the labne, and the zhug. Halfway through, I tore away the bread and picked at both sandwiches with my fork. Yes, I was stuffed, but there’s more! Fred’s had a special of a Vietnamese-style sandwich (banh mi) filled with roasted cauliflower, eggplant, and the usual assortment of pickled and fresh veggies. It was made on a crunchy baguette, just as it should be, and was fabulous. I took most of it home. Is it absurd that even with a barely eaten sandwich in my hand, I wanted ice cream? Unfortunately, Jenni’s is closed temporarily at KSM, so I begged that we go to Zesto in Little Five Points. As I’ve raved for years, I love the Toffee Coffee Arctic Swirl here and have felt terribly deprived since the convenient Zesto on Ponce closed. I inhaled the extra-large version in a flash. And, despite all this food, I awoke at 3 a.m. in an Ambien buzz and devoured the rest of the banh mi I could not eat five hours earlier. I fasted Saturday, and two days later, at my doctor’s office, I learned I’d dropped seven pounds. So there. Cliff Bostock, PhD, is a longtime Atlanta food critic and former psychotherapist who now offers collaborative life coaching, specializing in creativity and issues related to age transition (404-518-4415).

30 Columnists June 26, 2015 www.thegeorgiavoice.com


CONTINUED FROM PAGE 25 Mass, another co-founder of GMHC and a hero in his own right. The two of us looked at each other and just said, ‘Larry’s an incredible guy. Why hasn’t a documentary been made about him?’” She approached Kramer about the documentary, and he didn’t want to do it at first. He had been contacted by several people before and had tried working with one of them, but it didn’t feel right. “But I kept running into him in very serendipitous ways,” says Carlomusto. “He has known I have been documenting the AIDS movement since the mid-’80s and he had seen the piece I did called ‘Sex in an Epidemic,’ so he knew I was going to be fair. I tried to be fair at representing all angles. I was part of the movements and I would paint an accurate portrait—and I didn’t have an ax to grind.” She started soon afterward, and finished in the fall of 2014, almost five years later. She includes new and archived footage of Kramer, and she interviews many of his colleagues. Her biggest challenge was an unexpected one—Kramer almost died during the making of the film. She had shot half the interviews and was looking forward to getting footage from Kramer and his partner David when he landed in the hospital, near death. “I didn’t expect to be shooting so much in the hospital,” she says. “So much of the work early on was documenting friends who had died and the work was at hospital. This activated a painful place. I really did not want to be making a documentary about Larry dying, but you have to go where the material brings you. It was moving to see Larry fighting for his life and to see how strong he is in many ways.” When she started working at GMHC, Kramer was no longer there, but he was still very much a force. He was a reason it existed, she says, even though their parting wasn’t on great terms. Everyone recognized his fire and passion, however, even when they didn’t agree with his tactics. “I think a lot of people dismiss Larry as a crazy, angry guy; they don’t appreciate the totality of his contribution,” says Carlomusto. “Am I saying that Larry Kramer is the only history of the AIDS epidemic? No—there is no one definitive film about the AIDS epidemic. There were many responses. I personally witnessed what happened in New York City and he was a remarkable hero who spearheaded the responses to the gay plague.” A college professor for more than 20 years, she has noticed that while her students www.thegeorgiavoice.com

are generally more in favor of issues such as marriage equality, they don’t know the history of how gays and lesbians went beyond being a disenfranchised people to raising their voices together. ”Part of what I was trying to do (with the film) is give a history, to give a remarkably brief look back. Looking back to 1980 you can see egregious discrimination and horrible disregard for the lives of gay men, who were dying.” She saw many friends die; just during her time at GMHC, three of her supervisors passed away. It left scars. “I have a

great archive of friends and acquaintances no longer here. I feel like I am taking responsibility in a way not to forget. This is part of why I do the work. It was a historically important moment that needs to be remembered. Many of us feel the need to keep the story alive.” Kramer has been better this year and has made appearances with the film, including at the Provincetown International Film Festival. “He’s in a great shape,” says the director. “I saw him and he looks terrific. The positive response he is getting to the film and his

Details ‘Larry Kramer in Love & Anger’ June 29 HBO www.hbo.com

new book coming out, I think it gives him some wind under his wings that he has important work to do. For so long, he has been this angry guy and I think people were afraid of him. What I wanted to do was show the other side, the Larry who is kind of a shy, sensitive guy.”

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Our Guide to the Best LGBT Events in Atlanta for June 26-July 9

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SATURDAY, JUNE 27

The Maria Gabriella Band is one of the many bands in the lineup for the 2nd Annual WONfest on June 27. (Photo by FrameShot)

FRIDAY, JUNE 26 – SUNDAY, JUNE 28

Southern Fried Queer Pride is a threeday queer culture Pride festival featuring workshops, a film night, a queer arts and craft day, performance artists and a queer bicycle ride, various area locations, www.southernfriedqueerpride.com

FRIDAY, JUNE 26 – SATURDAY 27

EVENT SPOTLIGHT THURSDAY, JUNE 25 – JUNE 28

‘American Idol’ contestant David Hernandez is one of the performers slated to take the stage at Augusta Pride. (Photo via Facebook)

32 Best Bets June 26, 2015

The Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus presents “Men in the Mirror,” which revisits classical and traditional choral literature for male voices, from Georgian folk music to classic and contemporary music. Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Druid Hills Presbyterian Church, www.voicesofnote.org

FRIDAY, JUNE 26

The Atlanta Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce hosts its Fourth Friday mixer at Cirque Daiquiri Bar and Grill, presented by AARP, 5:30 -7:30 p.m., 2160 Monroe Drive, Atlanta, GA 30308, www.atlantagaychamber.org

Congregation Bet Haverim and SOJOURN host the Atlanta Pride Seder at the Phillip Rush Center Annex, 6:30 p.m., 1530 Dekalb Ave., www.sojourngsd.org/calendar/prideseder Brian Clowdus’ new take on “A Streetcar Named Desire” is now running, with a performance tonight at 8:30 p.m., running through June 28, Serenbe Playhouse, www.serenbeplayhouse.com The Lucky Penny presents “Honey, You Know Where to Find Me,” a summer showcase of contemporary dance, a celebration of vinyl records, and a karaoke party, curated by Andrew Alexander and featuring choreographers Blake Beckham, Corian Ellisor, T Lang Atl, MaryGrace Phillips, and Erik Thurmond, 8:30 p.m., hosted by Digital/Analog, www.theluckypenny.org Edie Cheezburger presents “The Other Show,” the most unique drag show in Atlanta. Admission is $5, Jungle, 10 p.m., www.jungleatl.com

SATURDAY, JUNE 27 – SUNDAY, JUNE 28

The 3rd Annual Old Fourth Ward Park Arts Festival will be presented by the Atlanta Foundation for Public Spaces this weekend, www.oldfourthwardparkartsfestival.com

SATURDAY, JUNE 27

Spiritual Living Center Atlanta presents “Stonewall and Beyond,” an afternoon of workshops followed by happy hour, a catered dinner and a screening of the film “Stonewall Uprising” at Spiritual Living Center Atlanta starting at 2:30 p.m., dinner at 6 p.m. 1730 NE Expy NE, Atlanta. Workshops and happy hour are free, tickets ($10 for movie, $15 for dinner and movie) available at slc-atlanta.org/stonewall-beyond Christopher Durang’s Tony Award-winning “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” has a lead gay character, running tonight at 8:30 p.m., through June 28, Horizon Theatre, www.horizontheatre.com

www.thegeorgiavoice.com


TELL US ABOUT YOUR LGBT EVENT Submit your LGBT event for inclusion in our online and print calendars by emailing event info to editor@thegavoice.com queens for “Monday’s a Drag” — a viewing party from 6 – 10 p.m. each Monday featuring a classic drag movie or TV show. MAX’s is offering campy drinks and food specials. 10 percent of all food and drink sales from each week’s event will be donated to Lost-N-Found Youth. www.maxswinedive.com/atlanta-12th-street

TUESDAY, JUNE 30

The all-new Latino Tuesday kicks off with DJ Karlito, Blake’s, www.blakesontheparkatlanta.com

WEDNESDAY, JULY 1

Ruby Redd’s Birdcage Bingo starts at 8:30 p.m., with $3 well drinks all night, The Hideaway, www.atlantahideaway.com Crazy Nights Karaoke is every Wednesday at 8 p.m. at My Sister’s Room, www.mysistersroom.com

SATURDAY, JUNE 27

Much beloved LGBT singer-songwriters Deidre McCalla, Dianne Davidson, and Jamie Anderson bring women’s music back to Atlanta with an in-the-round evening of songs, stories and sarcasm. Called “We Aren’t Dead Yet!” 8 p.m. at the First Existentialist Congregation, 470 Candler Park Drive NE, Atlanta. Tickets are available online at wady.brownpapertickets.com. (Courtesy photo) It’s bar code night at the Atlanta Eagle, with VJ Eric, 10 p.m., www.atlantaeagle.com

ing school facing issues of sexuality and personal identity, running through today with a 3 p.m. curtain, www.newnantheatre.org

SUNDAY, JUNE 28

Come enjoy good company and DJ Caprice at Bulldogs, 893 Peachtree Street, Atlanta, GA 30308

Lost-N-Found Youth is the beneficiary of a fundraiser at Eclectic Bistro & Bar from 11 a.m.--4 p.m., 1425 Piedmont Ave., menu available at www.eclecticbistroatlanta.com The InterContinental Buckhead Atlanta, in conjunction with celebrity chef Art Smith, will be hosting 101 Gay Weddings at the hotel. This is a free event for couples, along with their friends and families, to attend whether they want to renew vows, make the commitment or if the Supreme Court rules prior. The mass ceremony is at 2 p.m. followed by a reception at 3 p.m. Parking, participation and reception are all free. If interested, please contact Travis Brookshire at travis.brookshire@ihg.com Newnan Theatre Company’s “Bare: A Pop Opera” revolves around a group of high school seniors at a Catholic board-

www.thegeorgiavoice.com

Regina Simms emcees the New Faces event with singers, dancers, musicians, drag kings and queens and more, 9 p.m., Friends On Ponce, www.friendsonponce-atl.com

MONDAY, JUNE 29

Will a Supreme Court decision come today? If so, the community is urged to come to the Center for Civil and Human Rights to celebrate, www.georgiaequality.org HBO airs the documentary “Larry Kramer in Love & Anger” tonight, www.hbo.com Since Mondays tend to drag on anyway, why not make the most of it? MAX’s Wine Dive, the Midtown restaurant and wine bar, has teamed up with Atlanta’s best drag

a 1:30 p.m. show, Lips Atlanta, www.lipsatl.com The Atlanta Dream take on the Seattle Storm at Philips Arena today at 3 p.m., www.philipsarena.com

MONDAY, JULY 6

Trans and Friends: a Project of the Feminist Outlawz is a youth-focused group for trans people, people questioning their own gender and aspiring allies. Charis provides a facilitated space to discuss gender, relevant resources and activism around social issues. This is a project of the Feminist Outlawz, 7 – 8:30 p/.m., www.charisbooksandmore.com

CONTINUES ON PAGE 34

Nicole Paige Brooks, Mychelle LaCroix DuPree and Mo’Dest Volgare host Wild Out Wednesdays at Felix’s. www.felixsatlanta.com

THURSDAY, JULY 2 SUNDAY, JULY 5

Grizzlies, otters and cubs aplenty will be at Atlanta Bear Fest, with events all throughout the weekend, atlantabearfest.com

THURSDAY, JULY 2

The Sisters Night of Nunsense celebrates Independence Day by honoring members of AVER - American Veterans for Equal Rights, Inc. 7 – 9 p.m., Woofs Atlanta, www.woofsatlanta.com

FRIDAY, JULY 3

Get ready for the number one dance party every Friday night with Blue Diamond Entertainment and Traxx Girls. Doors open at 9 p.m., My Sister’s Room, www.mysistersroom.com

SATURDAY, JULY 4

Not watching fireworks somewhere? Then come to the 4th of July party at Publik Atlanta, with DJ John Michael, 654 Peachtree Street, Atlanta, GA 30308

SUNDAY, JULY 5

Wake up and make joyful noise with the Sisters of Sequin at Gospel Brunch with performers Bubba D. Licious and Justice Counce, 12:30 p.m. followed by

EVENT SPOTLIGHT FRIDAY, JULY 3

Pick up your flowers for the season at Garden*Hood and feast on snacks and wine provided by Stone Soup Kitchen. Donations benefit Atlanta Pride Committee. 5 – 8 p.m., atlantapride.org/venue/gardenhood

June 26, 2015 Best Bets 33


CONTINUED FROM PAGE 33

UPCOMING SATURDAY, JULY 11

TUESDAY, JULY 7

Angelica D’Paige hosts Drageoke at 10:30 p.m., Burkhart’s, www.burkharts.com

WEDNESDAY, JULY 8

The Icarus Project Atlanta is a local support network and media project by and for people who experience the world in ways that are often diagnosed as mental illness. This group seeks to advance social justice by fostering mutual aid practices that reconnect healing and collective liberation. 7:30 – 9 p.m., Charis Books, www.charisbooksandmore.com

THURSDAY, JULY 9

SAGE Atlanta hosts a social hour and games at 10 a.m. and then a general meeting at 11a.m., Phillip Rush Center Annex, www.rushcenteratl.com The Hideaway hosts Ian Aber for Hot Mic comedy nights, 10 p.m., www.atlantahideaway.com

Join CHRIS Kids at the annual White Party, formerly known as Premiere Party, at Mason Fine Art from 6- 10 p.m., featuring live performances by Pandora Boxx and Courtney Act from “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” www.masonfineartandevents.com

FRIDAY, JULY 17

The documentary “Do I Sound Gay?” opens at the Landmark Midtown Art Cinema today, with director David Thorpe down for a Q and A on Sunday, July 19, after the 7:15 p.m. screening, www.landmarktheatres.com

FRIDAY, JULY 18

Joining Hearts offers up its annual pool party, this year titled Dive, at Piedmont Park, 4 –11 p.m., www.joininghearts.org

FRIDAY, JULY 25

Porsha Daniels will be crowned as the first ever Miss Georgia Pride of America at Fuzions Bar and Grill in Monroe, 10 p.m., www.facebook.com/ MissGeorgiaPOA?fref=ts

FRIDAY, JULY 10

Actor’s Express opens the classic musical ‘Rent,’ with Freddie Ashley directing, tonight at 8 p.m. with shows through August 9, Actor’s Express, www.actorsexpress.com

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THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID By MELISSA CARTER

When capitalism tests patriotism I love my country, and have always supported the idea of capitalism. But when the American Dream comes at the expense of the sick, I question my patriotism. Last weekend I was taking a friend to lunch, and on the way I had to visit my pharmacy drive-thru to grab some refills. As a kidney transplant patient I take several pills a day, including two prescriptions that focus on keeping my transplanted kidney from being rejected by the rest of my body. Those were the bottles I was getting refilled, and warned my friend the attendant would be hesitant to tell me how much it would cost. I told her that happened every time I got these refilled, since even the pharmacy staff is surprised by the number that pops up on the register. “Um, Miss Carter, these are rather expensive. The total is $313.” I assured him I’d expected that, and handed him my credit card. As I signed for the purchase, my friend took the bag and looked at the bottles. She inquired how much the generic versions would cost, and I explained those were the generic drugs. I am fortunate enough at the moment to have a full-time job with benefits, so the $313 is my CO-PAY. I can’t even imagine how much it would cost me without insurance to keep my transplanted kidney safe, keeping me alive. In the 13 years since the transplant, those prescription bills have increased. And since I’ll have to take these medications the rest of my life, there’s no telling how much worse it will get. I learned later that evening that other patients have it much worse. How much worse? Try $100,000 a year for one medication if you have cancer. It was in a report by Lesley Stahl on CBS, exploring the expense of cancer drugs. She interviewed several doctors, including leading colon cancer expert Dr. Leonard Saltz, who used the term “financial toxicity.” He says individual patients are going into bankruptcy trying to deal with these prices. He www.thegeorgiavoice.com

“I am fortunate enough at the moment to have a full-time job with benefits, so the $313 is my CO-PAY. I can’t even imagine how much it would cost me without insurance to keep my transplanted kidney safe, keeping me alive.” says getting started on all the necessary cancer medications could run a quarter of a million dollars! Houston’s Dr. Hagop Kantarjian added that one thing that has to change is the law that ties the hands of Medicare. During President Bush’s administration, a law was passed that prohibits the federal government from negotiating with pharmaceutical companies for better prices for drugs. Whatever price the drug companies tag onto a medication, Medicare has to pay it. “High cancer drug prices are harming patients, because either you come up with the money, or you die,” Kantarjian told Stahl. Capitalism is defined as “an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state.” I appreciate the ideal that capitalism accommodates anyone willing to work hard enough toward any ambition. Our system of government was created by people fleeing an environment where only the rich made the rules. However, it seems the United States is coming full circle back to the mother country, and doing so by taking advantage of the vulnerable. What can we do? Get involved in politics. Drug companies spend more on lobbying than on any other industry, so reaching out to your elected officials is the best defense against these special interests. Your life, or the life of someone you love who has not yet been diagnosed with an expensive disease, may depend on it. June 26, 2015 COLUMNISTS 37


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It’s tempting to think we’re at the part of a wedding when the officiant asks if anyone knows any reason why LGBT Americans should not wed: there’s every reason to be optimistic, but also a faint concern that some people could raise objections that make the LGBT movement wipe the “Just Married” paint off the idling limousine. As close as we feel we are to being able to say, “I do,” we’re actually at a much earlier stage in this process: awaiting parental approval. Should a majority of U.S. Supreme Court justices give their blessings to same-sex unions, as they are expected to do within days, it will be time to win over the rest of the family. Many folks will share our joy, even if some of them whisper their misgivings in private company, while others are readying to lie in the wedding aisle to prevent us from exchanging vows. There are many people whose own grief and frustration leave them in no mood to celebrate, and LGBT Americans ought not let tears of joy blind us to the tears and blood flowing from those we claim as kin in the struggle for human rights. We were mercifully spared the unseemly juxtaposition of LGBT folks celebrating a marriage equality victory on Thursday, June 18, as Americans mourned the terrorist attack carried out by a white supremacist against worshipers at Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Our movement is wont to highlight the similarities between our crusade and the plight of African-Americans, but the unfortunate timing of recent episodes show that the two are, not only different, but headed in opposite directions. Our anticipation of the April 28 oral arguments in the marriage case currently before the Supreme Court, Obergefell v. Hodges, remained enthusiastic, even while Baltimore smoldered after yet another black man received a death sentence for a petty offense. Some of us didn’t settle for simply being obtuse, instead chastising black rioters without any recognition that our own movement began when LGBT people started throwing bricks at New York police officers, locked them inside the

“Our movement is wont to highlight the similarities between our crusade and the plight of African-Americans, but the unfortunate timing of recent episodes show that the two are, not only different, but headed in opposite directions.” Stonewall Inn and set the joint ablaze. It’s encouraging that many LGBT groups issue press releases to express solidarity during African-American crises, although when an organization’s internal review concludes that it is a “white men’s club,” as with the Human Rights Campaign’s recent case of self-awareness, it’s clear that LGBT America is not apart from the awakening and redemption that is demanded of our nation on the issues of color and culture. If we fancy ourselves as being concerned with social justice, we must engage in such conversations beyond when our civil rights are being discussed. Those who feel overwhelmed by powerlessness to change the racial ills of our society might want to draw upon their own minority experience and remember that the indifference of friends can be as hurtful as antagonism from opponents. Perhaps our victory in marriage will make plain to us that the election of President Obama ushered in a “post-racial” society as much as Reconstruction did. We would be righteously offended if someone suggested that marriage equality meant homophobia and transphobia were suddenly extinct, and we would take exception to a new group coming along and anointing itself as “the new civil rights movement,” as we have so recklessly done. Hate endures, as evidenced by the organization that was founded in defense of slavery, the Southern Baptist Convention, dusting off its bigoted bayonet to declare spiritual warfare against LGBT Americans. Our commitment to defending ourselves and our allies from injustice must be sincere and tireless.

38 Columnists June 26, 2015 www.thegeorgiavoice.com



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