BLACK GAY PRIDE Brandy headlines Atlanta’s Labor Day weekend fest. Page 17
BIAS & ‘THE BUTLER’ PERFECT ‘HARMONY’ Barry Manilow brings musical Gay director Lee Daniels on new talents to local stage. Page 21 film, facing bigotry. Page 18
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IN THIS ISSUE
6 | Russia’s iron closet: Anti-gay laws spark debate over Olympic boycott. 9 | Gay bars dump Stoli, but does it matter to Russia? 11 | Post-DOMA deluge of marriage equality lawsuits nationwide. 13 | News in brief: Trans ‘Warrior Princess’ Kristin Beck, Pride grand marshals and more
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OUTSPOKEN FRIENDS & FOES IN THEIR OWN WORDS
“As an openly gay African American, Mr. Rustin stood at the intersection of several of the fights for equal rights.”
“They have a lot of romantic time they spend together. Alone time. I think, you know, it is a prison. I think that’s probably where his character’s going to go. Maggie? Who’s Maggie, you know what I mean? It’s Glenn and Daryl.”
— White House press release announcing that Bayard Rustin, who helped organize the 1963 March on Washington, will be posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Sally Ride, the first female American astronaut in space, will also receive the Medal of Freedom; she became known publicly as gay when her obituary listed her longtime partner. (Aug. 8)
Photo from Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, U.S. News & World Report Magazine Collection
“Fun fact: when you twitter me and say ‘you’re a lesbian’ it really doesn’t bother me at all. It’s a compliment. Most of my fav ppl are, so...” — Pink, responding via Twitter after someone criticized her on the social networking service for dancing with a rainbow flag during a recent concert in Sydney, Australia. (Huffington Post, Aug. 5) scarletknights.com (USA Today, July 29)
Publicity photo via Facebook
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18 | INTERVIEW: DIRECTOR LEE DANIELS' 'THE BUTLER'
— Norman Reedus, who plays Daryl on “The Walking Dead,” teasing a possible gay relationship in the upcoming Season 4 of the popular zombie drama (Entertainment Weekly via NewNowNext.com, Aug. 12)
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14 | Decatur Book Fest draws top LGBT talent 17 | Events: Black Gay Pride set to sizzle Labor Day Weekend 18 | Film: Gay director Lee Daniels’ ‘The Butler’ 21 | Theater: Barry Manilow on ‘Harmony’ 23 | Photos: Rainbow Days at Six Flags 24 | CALENDAR 29 | That’s What She Said: Melissa Carter is living on toddler time. 31 | Domestically Disturbed: Topher Payne gets hot and bothered.
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THE GEORGIA VOICE
“I was excited to hear today that more states legalized gay marriage. I, however, am not currently getting married, but it is great to know I can now, should I wish to.” — Actress Raven-Symone, who gained fame as a child on “The Cosby Show,” coming out in a statement after tweeting, “I can finally get married! Yay government! So proud of you.” (Washington Times, Aug. 4)
“On August 7, 2010, I told my family that I am gay. And on August 7, 2013, I want you guys to know that I’m gay.” — Actor Troye Sivan, who is 18 and portrays James as a young man in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” coming out to fans through a video he posted on YouTube. (Business Insider, Aug. 9)
Screen capture via YouTube
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6 | GA VOICE
Russia’s ir0n cl0set
Anti-gay laws spark international debate over Olympics By LAURA DOUGLAS-BROWN
TO BOYCOTT, OR NOT?
What to do about the Sochi Olympics divides LGBT rights supporters around the world, with grassroots activists and celebrities pushing for a boycott, and many political leaders, athletes and prominent LGBT organizations calling instead for participating in the games and using the international media spotlight to bring attention to the plight of LGBT Russians. Celebrities calling for the boycott include gay “Star Wars” icon George Takei, gay British TV star and writer Stephen Fry, gay Broadway actor Harvey Fierstein, and more. They are joined by hundreds of thousands of grassroots activists around the world. Hashtags like #boycottolympics are gaining popularity on Twitter and petitions to boycott or move the Olympics and the 2013 Miss Universe pageant hosted by Russia are garnering signatures on websites including Change.org. On Aug. 7, gay rights group All Out delivered to the International Olympic Committee headquarters in Switzerland a petition with 320,000 signatures calling on Russia to change its anti-gay laws before the Olympics and dema ng dem a n d iin the IOC condemn the law. o ot ph al ci ffi O
Despite international media scrutiny and criticism from foreign heads of state and hundreds of thousands of activists around the world, Russian ofﬁcials won’t back down from the country’s controversial law banning gay “propaganda” — prompting calls for boycotts of everything from the 2014 Winter Olympics to vodkas associated with Russia. Passed unanimously by Parliament and signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin on June 30, the law is aimed at protecting minors from “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” and is so vague critics fear it could criminalize simply being openly gay or expressing any support for LGBT equality. The propaganda law, part of a rising tide of homophobia in Russia (see sidebar, “Russia’s attack on LGBT rights”), includes a clause speciﬁcally related to foreigners, who could face ﬁnes, 15 days of detainment and deportation. The clause raises questions about the impact on thousands of foreign athletes, staffers, media and fans expected to attend the upcoming Olympics, set for Feb. 7-23 in Sochi, Russia. Facing mounting international scrutiny, Russia’s Interior Ministry — which includes the police force — issued a statement Aug. 12, claiming those attending the Olympics won’t be arrested simply for being gay, but asserting that the propaganda law will still be in place. “The law enforcement agencies can have no qualms with people who harbor a nontraditional sexual orientation and do not commit such acts [to promote homosexuality to minors], do not conduct any kind of provocation and take part in the Olympics peacefully,” the statement said, according to RIA Novosti, an English-language Russian news site. Alexander Zhukov, the head of Russia’s National Olympic Committee, stressed the law’s ban on propaganda to minors. “If a person does not put across his views in the presence of children, no measures against him can be taken,” Zhukov said, as reported by RIA Novosti. Yet as conﬂicting headlines illustrate, interpreting the new statement is as difﬁcult as interpreting the law itself — especially since children will surely be in attendance at many
Olympic events and could also read any pro-gay statements reported in the media. RIA Novosti headlined its Aug. 12 coverage, “Russia Conﬁrms Anti-Gay Law Will Be Enforced at Olympics.” The BBC, however, headlined its story on the same statement, “Sochi Olympics: Russia says no discrimination for gay athletes.” But while the Olympics shine a spotlight on the law, others argue focusing solely on the impact on the Winter Games risks obscuring the much more severe effect the law has on LGBT Russians every day. “It is about way more than the safety of our athletes,” noted Atlanta resident Winston Johnson, an activist on LGBT issues for decades. “All of us should bring all of the pressure on the International Olympic Committee, the United States Olympic Committee and the corporate sponsors that we possibly can, to let them know that this is not just about the safety of our athletes,” Johnson wrote in an Aug. 13 letter urging the community to take a stand. “It is about condemning LGBT Russians and Eastern Europeans to a scary and dangerous future, with the tacit approval of the civilized world.”
“We are talking about protecting children from the respective information. We ask that (other countries) do not interfere in our regulation.” — Russian President Vladimir Putin, praising the country’s ban on “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations.” (Telegraph UK, June 30, 2013)
“Holding the Winter Olympics in Sochi with these laws in place is like holding the Games in Johannesburg at the height of apartheid,” All Out Executive Director Andre Banks told CNN. But the All Out petition stopped short of calling for a boycott, a tactic critics argue would hurt athletes who have trained most of their lives for the Olympics, without sparking change in the Russian law. It’s a stand taken by other prominent LGBT groups as well. “We are following the lead of the Russian LGBT Network, which issued a statement urging folks to ‘speak up, not walk out’ of the Sochi Olympics. We oppose calls to boycott the Sochi Olympics,” Brian Tofte Schumacher, spokesperson for the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission, told GA Voice. “We believe the most effective way to use the Olympics as a tool to repeal anti-gay legislation and also address the clampdown on civil society is to use them as a platform for a strong showing of international solidarity,” he said. U.S. President Barack Obama rejected calls for a boycott of the Sochi Games, stating in an Aug. 9 news conference, “We’ve got a bunch of Americans out there who are training hard, who are doing everything they can to succeed.’’ Obama, who condemned Russia’s anti-gay laws, said he hoped lesbian and gay athletes would excel at the games. “One of the things I’m really looking forward to is maybe some gay and lesbian athletes bringing home the gold or silver or bronze, which would, I think, go a long way in rejecting the kind of attitudes that we’re seeing there,’’ Obama said, according to the Associated Press. Also on Aug. 9, International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge said the IOC had “received assurances” from Sochi Olympic organizers that the law would not harm those attending the games, but he is waiting for further information. “We are waiting for the clariﬁcations before having the ﬁnal judgment on these reassurances… The Olympic charter is clear. A sport is a human right and it should be available to all, regardless of race, sex or sexual orientation,” Rogge said. Some 83 U.S. Congress members, including
Please see RUSSIA on Page 8
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Russian anti-gay laws compared to Nazi Germany RUSSIA continued from Page 6 U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) have called on Secretary of State John Kerry to take steps to guarantee the safety of LGBT Americans attending the games. U.S. ﬁgure skater Johnny Weir, who is openly gay and known for his ﬂamboyance, opposes a boycott and said he will compete in Sochi if he makes the U.S. team. Weir, who has a Russian husband, said he would not kiss or make other gay statements, but still fears being arrested or not allowed in the country simply because he is so out.
OPTIONS BEYOND BOYCOTTS
Instead of boycotting the Winter Olympics in Sochi, some activists have suggested that the IOC move the games to another country — a logistical nightmare that would likely be impossible on such a short timeframe. Cyd Zeigler, founder of LGBT website OutSports, argues that rather than kicking the Olympics out of Russia, Russia should be kicked out of the Olympics. In a recent column for Hufﬁngton Post, Ziegler noted that the IOC has a history of banning countries from competition. “It makes no sense to tell American, Canadian and British athletes they can’t compete in the Olympic Games because of a boycott over human-rights violations by Russia. It’s the Russians who are in violation of the Olympic Charter, and it’s they who should be banned from competing,” Zeigler told GA Voice. “People get that. Many have been very receptive.” Meanwhile, other LGBT activists are demanding that if the Olympics remain in Russia, the IOC must create a safe space for gay attendees while also using the Olympics to condemn Russia’s laws. InterPride, a federation of LGBT Pride groups; the Gay & Lesbian International Sport Association, and the International Lesbian & Gay Association decried Russia’s gay crackdown as “abhorrent” and issued three demands to the IOC: create a Rainbow or Pride House as a refuge for LGBT people in Sochi during the Olympics; let LGBT athletes and allies wear rainbow pins or carry rainbow ﬂags during the opening and closing ceremonies; and have the IOC chair condemn Russia’s anti-gay laws in remarks during the opening ceremonies. “A Pride House in Sochi would help both LGBT athletes and spectators by providing a safe and welcoming space during the Olympics,” Les Johnson, co-chair of external affairs with the Federation of Gay Games and a coalition member of Pride House International, told GA Voice.
LIKE BERLIN IN 1936?
Russia’s crackdown on LGBT rights with the Olympics poised to put the country on the
world stage is drawing comparisons to the 1936 Summer Olympics, which took place in Berlin, Germany, three years after Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party took power — ultimately leading to the Holocaust and the deaths of approximately six million Jews, as well as Gypsies, homosexuals, and more. Stephen Fry’s open letter to British Prime Minister David Cameron and Olympic leaders begins with a comparison to the 1936 Berlin Olympics. “The Olympic movement at that time paid precisely no attention to this evil and proceeded with the notorious Berlin Olympiad, which provided a stage for a gleeful Führer and only increased his status at home and abroad. It gave him conﬁdence. All historians are agreed on that. What he did with that conﬁdence we all know,” Fry wrote. “Putin is eerily repeating this insane crime, only this time against LGBT Russians,” continued Fry, who described himself as gay and Jewish and called for an “absolute ban” on the Sochi Olympics. “I for one, weep anew at seeing history repeat itself,” he wrote. The Berlin comparisons angered Russian Jews who support the gay propaganda ban. “Unfortunately, yet again we see people attempting to use sacred memory about the genocide against the Jews and the Holocaust for their own purposes,” said Berl Lazar, Russia’s chief rabbi, news website RT reported. But Jewish LGBT activists from Russia aren’t dismissing the analogy, as the Times of Israel reported. “The comparison to Nazi Germany immediately comes to mind when I think about how this law and other recent Russian laws are stripping people of human rights,” Jewish lesbian Yelena Goltsman, a former resident of the Soviet Union, told the Times. Goltsman now lives in New York and founded RUSA LGBT, a group for gay Russian speakers. Even activists who stop short of comparing Sochi to Berlin stress their concern that Russia’s crackdown on gay activism is part of a broader effort to deny human rights and squash dissent. “I am cautious to compare these policies to anti-Jewish policies directly — what I would say is these policies are just one part of a widespread repression of civil society which is deeply concerning,” said Tofte-Schumacher of IGLHRC. Instead of simply focusing on the Olympics, “One of the most powerful things people in the United States can do is listen and respond to the requests of Russian activists,” he said, “and to see the antihomosexuality propaganda law not as a solitary issue of LGBT discrimination, but as a just one part of a holistic strategy to limit Russians’ right to freedom of expression.”
Russia’s attack on LGBT rights LGBT activists have faced obstacles in Russia for years, including frequent bans and attacks on Pride events. But President Vladimir Putin and the Russian government have stepped up the homophobia in recent months, approving bans on gay “propaganda” and adoptions. Ban on gay ‘propaganda’ On June 30, 2013, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed what has become known as Russia’s “gay propaganda” law, which bans “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” to minors. Activists fear the law, passed unanimously by the Russian parliament, is so vague it could prohibit being openly gay or advocating for gay rights in any way. Individuals face fines; organizations face fines and closure for 90 days. Foreigners can be fined, detained for 15 days and deported; four Dutch activists have already been charged. Adoptions cut off over gay parents On July 3, 2013, Putin signed a law banning adoptions of Russian children by samesex couples, unmarried couples and single people from any countries where same-sex marriage is legal. In December 2012, Russia banned all adoptions by parents in the U.S. According to the New York Times, “it is rumored that Mr. Putin is about to sign an edict that would remove children from their own families if the parents are either gay or lesbian or suspected of being gay or lesbian. The police would have the authority to remove children from adoptive homes as well as from their own biological parents.” Pride marches forbidden Russian LGBT activists have faced increasing barriers, dating back at least to 2006, when Pride marchers were arrested in Moscow after violating the mayor’s rejection of the event. In 2012, Russia’s highest court upheld Moscow’s policy banning gay Pride parades in the city for 100 years, although the European Court of Human Rights held in 2010 that the ban blocks freedom of assembly. Gay Pride events are frequently met with violence, including an event in St. Petersburg in May 2012 that was allowed by city officials, then brutally attacked by men in masks who were never caught. This year, activists in St. Petersburg were again attacked when trying to march.
This photo, published July 24 on the website of the Spectrum Human Rights Alliance, was posted online by Russian vigilantes who apparently lured the young man via a personal ad, then photographed themselves celebrating humiliating him. According to Spectrum, “Many victims were driven to suicides, the rest are deeply traumatized.”
Escalating anti-LGBT violence In addition to attacks on Pride marches, the growing anti-gay sentiment in Russia appears to have fueled attacks on those who are openly gay or perceived to be. In an attack widely discussed on the internet in recent weeks, gay rights activist Krill Kalugin was attacked by a group of Russian military types while holding a rainbow sign in St. Petersburg. Three men were arrested in May 2013 in Russia’s Kamchatka Region for allegedly killing an airport manager for being gay. Also in May 2013, a suspect in the death of Vladislav Tornovoi in Volgograd, Russia, told police it was because the victim was gay, although his family has denied that he was gay. Spectrum Human Rights Alliance, which focuses on LGBT rights in Eastern Europe, has reported on anti-gay Russian vigilantes who post personal ads on the social networking site VK.com to lure gay teens, then assault and humiliate them and post videos of the attacks online. Sources: The Guardian UK, BBC News, NBC News, RIA Novosti, Keen News Service, New York Times, Human Rights Watch, Pink News
Boycott targets Stoli to protest Russia Atlanta bars dump vodka over country’s anti-gay laws By DYANA BAGBY In June, when Russia’s government passed an anti-gay “propaganda” bill that was quickly signed into law by President Vladimir Putin, LGBT Americans reacted with fury. Many jumped to action by organizing petitions to boycott or move the Olympics. Dan Savage, gay activist and columnist for the Seattle Stranger, urged his readers and others to boycott one of Russia’s leading exports — vodka, speciﬁcally Stolichnaya vodka. “[T]here is something we can do right here, right now, in Seattle and other US cities to show our solidarity with Russian queers and their allies and to help to draw international attention to the persecution of gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, trans people, and straight allies in Putin’s increasingly fascistic Russia: DUMP RUSSIAN VODKA,” Savage wrote in his July 24 column. The boycott quickly caught on and gay bars across the country jumped on the “Dump Stoli” campaign. But critics immediately argued the Stoli brand being boycotted isn’t really Russian. Stoli CEO Val Mendelev wrote a July 25 public letter to the LGBT community saying his company has always supported equality for all. He explained the Russian government has nothing to do with his brand, which is privately owned by SPI Group, headquartered in Luxembourg. While Stoli is made from Russian ingredients such as wheat, rye and raw alcohol, it is produced and bottled in Latvia, which became an independent state in 1948.
LAST CALL FOR STOLI AT SOME ATLANTA BARS
In Atlanta, Robby Kelley, co-owner of the Atlanta Eagle, didn’t wait for the ofﬁcial boycott to begin in July — after the Russian anti-gay law passed June 11, he posted to his Facebook page June 15 that the Eagle was done with the vodka that originated in Russia. “I know Stoli is not made in Russia but profits made from it goes there. The Atlanta Eagle will no longer carry these vodkas. When we are out, we are out. I’m a small bar but [feel] like [it’s] my job [not] to support vodka or [products]
from a country that just removed the rights of the lgbt community for the next 100 years,” Kelley wrote. Blake’s on the Park announced on its Facebook page July 31 it would also stop selling Stoli, stating, “While our refusal to serve Stoli in itself is not necessarily a grand gesture likely to bring about reform, this act may prove effective in helping to at least begin to stir the winds of change.” Amsterdam Atlanta joined the boycott by posting a photo to its Facebook page stating it is standing in solidarity with Russian LGBT people by “Proudly not serving Stolichnya.” But Richard Cherskov, managing owner of Jungle, believes the boycott of Stoli is “misplaced.” “Stoli has been a supporter of the community (at least in America) and this boycott will hurt Americans (i.e. local distributors, etc.) more than it help this cause in Russia,” he said in an email interview. Lewis Covington, manager of Friends on Ponce, is siding with Jungle on this one. “As I understand it Stoli is headquartered in Luxembourg, made with Russian grains and raw alcohol, and bottled in Latvia. I don’t know if that makes it worthy of boycott,” he said. “However, I have no problem pouring out Russian vodkas and never serving another drop as long as Russia oppresses our gay, lesbian, and transgender brothers and sisters. Their treatment is deplorable, disgraceful, and scurrilous,” he added. Oscar’s and Hideaway are not going to be pouring out their Stoli stock. Burkhart’s management says its stands with LGBT people in Russia, but the owner is away on vacation so the bar has not taken an ofﬁcial stance on the boycott. Las Margaritas owner Oscar Valdivieso said his gay-fave bar and restaurant does not carry Russian vodkas. In East Atlanta, Jen Maguire, co-owner of My Sister’s Room, said the bar has never carried Stoli and will not carry the brand. Ben Cheaves, co-owner of Mary’s, said his bar is not pulling Stoli from its stock. Marietta gay bar LeBuzz is also keeping Stoli for now. “My liquor distributor sent me a letter the CEO wrote and based on what the letter said we are taking no action at this point. That could change. But it is a private company and has nothing to do with the Russian government,” said owner Johnathon Murphy.
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Post-DOMA deluge: More lawsuits demand marriage By LISA KEEN
It hasn’t even been two months since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the key part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, but “the lay of the land is getting a bit complicated,” according to James Esseks, director of the ACLU’s National LGBT and AIDS Project. Esseks was one of the attorneys involved in pressing the case of Edith Windsor, which led to a historic June 26 decision striking down the core provision of DOMA. Assessing the deluge of litigation since then, “it’s hard to keep count,” Esseks said. In the past month, at least a dozen new lawsuits have been launched all over the country as a result of the Supreme Court decisions. Some seek to end bans like Proposition 8 in other states. Others seek to secure for speciﬁc couples in speciﬁc circumstances the beneﬁts of marriage that DOMA once barred. Rulings in other lawsuits — those ﬁled before the DOMA decision — have advanced the reach of marriage equality in numerous places since the end of June. One important case resolved by the Windsor DOMA decision was Golinski v. U.S. A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel issued a fourpage order July 23, stating that the parties to the case agree that the Supreme Court’s decision means DOMA no longer stands in the way of allowing an employee of the federal circuit, Karen Golinski, to obtain health coverage for her samesex spouse. Golinski had been represented by Lambda Legal. And, with relatively little publicity, the lawyers hired by House Republican leaders to defend DOMA when President Obama refused indicated July 18 that, because of the Supreme Court’s ruling in U.S. v. Windsor, “the House has determined…that it will no longer defend that statute.”
MULTIPLE STATES, MULTIPLE BATTLES
These are all important developments, coloring in the lines that the Supreme Court has drawn with its rulings, and many are happening in states where civil rights for LGBT people almost never advance in a positive direction. The ACLU and its afﬁliates have active cases underway in Pennsylvania and North Carolina. They also have a case with the National Center for Lesbian Rights ﬁled in New Mexico. Jon Davidson, legal director for the Lambda Legal, has litigation pending in New Jersey and Nevada, the latter of which is already at the
Supreme Court decision inspires cases around the country federal appeals level. Lambda also has a case in Arizona seeking to preserve health coverage for the same-sex domestic partners of state employees. And Lambda and the ACLU each have separate cases pending (and now consolidated) in Illinois, lawsuits ﬁled before DOMA was struck down. They also ﬁled a joint marriage equality lawsuit Aug. 1 in Virginia. In addition to these, Davidson says he knows of lawsuits ﬁled by attorneys working alone in Arkansas, Hawaii, Louisiana, Michigan, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah. And news reports have identiﬁed an additional private lawsuit in Kentucky.
BIG CASES IN OHIO, PENN.
Two of the big newsmakers during the past month have involved cases in two of the bigger states: Ohio and Pennsylvania. In Cincinnati, U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Black ruled July 19 that Ohio, which has a state constitutional amendment banning recognition of marriages between same-sex partners, More than a dozen marriage equality lawsuits have been filed around must recognize the valid marriage li- the nation since June 26, the day the U.S. Supreme Court struck down cense an Ohio gay couple obtained this the key part of the Defense of Marriage Act, prompting rallies like this one in Atlanta. (Photo by Laura Douglas-Brown) month in Maryland. In Obergefell v. Kasich, Judge Black, an appointee of President Obama, said There, in Montgomery County, the Register of there was “insufﬁcient evidence of a legitimate state interest to justify this singling out Wills, Bruce Hanes, said he and other county ofof same sex married couples given the severe ﬁcials had studied the Supreme Court’s ruling in the U.S. v. Windsor DOMA case and determined and irreparable harm it imposes.” The case of John Arthur and James Oberge- it required them to issue marriage licenses to fell garnered considerable attention from the same-sex couples. The county began issuing linational media, in part because the couple had censes to same-sex couples July 24. Even before this happened, the ACLU had to rent a charter airplane to transport the men to Maryland because Arthur is in the late stages of ﬁled a lawsuit in the federal district court of the state capital July 9, seeking to overturn the state a terminal illness. The men, who have been together for 20 ban on allowing same-sex couples to marry. Also in Pennsylvania, a federal district judge years, were married on July 11 on the tarmac at a Baltimore airport and then ﬂew back to Ohio. ruled July 29 that the Supreme Court’s decision They ﬁled their lawsuit July 19 and Judge Black in the Windsor DOMA case requires a private granted their motion for a temporary restrain- employer of the late Sarah Ellyn Farley to pay death beneﬁts to her spouse Jennifer Tobits uning order against Ohio July 22. Some judicial and political ﬁgures came to a der the federal ERISA plan. The National Center for Lesbian Rights represented the couple. similar conclusion in Pennsylvania.
LAWSUITS FILED WITHOUT BIG LGBT LEGAL GROUPS
But not every DOMA-related marriage lawsuit has Lambda, the ACLU, or any of the other big LGBT advocacy groups behind it. And not every one is meeting with success. Domenico Nuckols of Galveston ﬁled his own lawsuit in federal court in Galveston, Texas, July 2, seeking to overturn that state’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples. But two weeks later, a federal judge dismissed the lawsuit at Nuckols’ request; he said LGBT activists encouraged him to drop the case. But legal challenges are underway in other Southern states. With the consent this month of the North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, the ACLU has amended an existing lawsuit, Fisher-Borne v. Smith — one that seeks the right for co-parent adoption — to now seek the right for same-sex couples to marry. In addition to the Lambda Legal/ACLU lawsuit in Virginia, a gay couple in Norfolk, Virginia, ﬁled their own lawsuit in federal district court July 18, challenging the state’s ban on issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. In Bostic v. McDonnell, Timothy Bostic and Tony London, who have been together for 23 years, say the state ban violates their rights to equal protection. And three gay couples ﬁled a lawsuit in an Arkansas federal court July 15 seeking to overturn that state’s ban on allowing samesex couples to marry. The lawsuit is Jernigan v. Crane. In Kentucky, a gay male couple that has been together for 31 years and was married in 2004 ﬁled a lawsuit July 26 in the federal district court for Louisville. In Bourke v. Beshear, Gregory Bourke and Michael Deleon and their two children are suing Democratic Governor Steve Beshear, seeking to require the state to recognize marriage licenses issued to samesex couples in other jurisdictions. The lawsuit, ﬁled with private counsel, is narrow. It only seeks to require the state recognize marriage licenses same-sex couples obtain in other states or jurisdictions. In a web video interview with Louisville’s Courier-Journal, Bourke explained that the couple, who married in Canada, decided to ﬁle the lawsuit because both men are Kentucky natives who love “where we live.” “So, when the Supreme Court rulings came out,” said Deleon, “that was probably the most hopeful day we’ve had in our 31 years that some day we might actually achieve marriage equality.”
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SUN DAY, O CTO BER 6, 2013 In ter continental B uckhead At l ant a | 12: 30pm - 3 : 3 0 p m REGISTER TOD AY AT VI CTO RYFUND. O RG / AT L A N TA Paid by the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, www.victoryfund.org. Contributions or gifts to the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund are not tax-deductible.
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Trans SEAL to run for oﬃce, Pride marshals & more located in Chatsworth, Ga., sought legal recourse to get back money spent defending the case in court. Kristin Beck, who retired from Tina and David Long the Navy SEALS in 2011 and made were featured in the 2012 national headlines by coming out as documentary, “Bully.” The transgender, was in Atlanta Aug. 3-4 stories of ﬁve bullied chilvisiting First Metropolitan Commudren are told, two of them nity Church where she shared her posthumously because story at the Sunday service. the boys involved comIn an interview with GA Voice, mitted suicide. Beck said she plans to run for a ConKristin Beck For the school system gressional seat in her home state (Photo by Dyana Bagby) to stop trying to recoup of Florida as a Democrat, with an costs, the Longs agreed announcement likely in 2015. Her hometown is Tampa and the seat she would not to appeal the case. They say they will be running for is the 14th Congressional Dis- continue to speak out about bullying and trict, currently held by Democrat Kathy Cas- what happened to their son. tor. Beck also plans to write a new memoir ATLANTA PRIDE NAMES GRAND with her best friend, Wendy Kelly. Beck’s MARSHALS FOR 2013 PARADE current book, “Warrior Princess,” represents The Atlanta Pride Committee announced only a short part of her life, she said. The Aug. 8 the crop of Grand Marshals for the 2013 new book will include a more holistic apAtlanta Pride parade, which takes place Oct. proach to her life and beliefs. 13. The group includes a family of fundraising Beck said she is currently beginning to drag performers, an HIV blogger and several speak at engagements on behalf of the U.S. LGBT rights activists. State Department. She is also enjoying meet“Each of these honorees works diligently ing other LGBT activists and speaking out at to make Atlanta and Georgia more welcoming various equality events in Florida. She comes and afﬁrming for LGBTQ citizens,” said Atlanback to Atlanta in September for the annual ta Pride Executive Director Buck Cooke. Southern Comfort Conference. This year’s marshals are the following: “It’s like I’m on a new mission,” she said. Christina Bucher, an associate professor “A lot people are listening about this because at Berry College in Rome, Ga., who has worked I was a Navy SEAL then maybe weren’t beto make the campus more accepting for LGBT fore.” students; Lorraine Fontana, a longtime feminist GA. SCHOOL DROPS EFFORTS and LGBT activist who helped found the AtTO RECOUP LEGAL COSTS FROM lanta Lesbian Feminist Alliance; HIV-positive “My Fabulous Disease” blog‘BULLY’ PARENTS Murray County’s school district is drop- ger Mark S. King; Local television personality and LGBT ping its legal effort to recoup some $30,000 in court costs from parents who sued the rights ally Evelyn Mims; Writer and activist Charles Stephen, orschool after their son committed suicide, acganizer of next year’s “Whose Beloved Comcording to the Fulton County Daily Report. The parents, Tina and David Long, unsuc- munity: Black Civil and LGBT Rights Movecessfully sued the school district, alleging ments” conference at Emory; Atlanta Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, the district was negligent in protecting their 17-year old son, Tyler, from consistent bully- the drag fundraising troupe founded in 2009; ing by classmates and that the bullying led and Charis Circle, the nonproﬁt programhim to hang himself in 2009. The Longs, however, had their lawsuit ming arm of Charis Books & More, the nadismissed and recently the school district, tion’s oldest independent feminist bookstore.
TRANS ‘WARRIOR PRINCESS’ KRISTIN BECK PLANS CONGRESSIONAL BID IN FLA.
• • • • • • •
GA VOICE | 13
THE 2013-2014 SEASON
PuSH DANCE COmPANy
DiAvOlO Friday, September 20
Fri.-Sat., February 7 & 8
PAT mETHENy uNiTy grOuP
Friday, October 4
Saturday, February 15
Friday, October 11
CArOliNA CHOCOlATE DrOPS
THE HOT Club Of SAN frANCiSCO
Saturday, March 1
Friday, October 18
AlfrEDO rODriguEz TriO
big bAD vOODOO DADDy
Friday, March 7
Friday, November 1
SONiC gENErATOr and l’OrCHESTrE NATiONAl DE lOrrAiNE Sunday, November 3
SHufflE, SHAkE and SHATTEr
by SANfOrD biggErS
Friday, March 28
PilObOluS Saturday, April 5
A PETEr WHiTE CHriSTmAS
with riCk brAuN and miNDi AbAir
Saturday, April 12
Saturday, December 14
Saturday, April 26
SElECT 5 Or mOrE PErfOrmANCES
Off THE SiNglE TiCkET PriCE!
Single tickets now on sale!
Decatur gets booked 14 | GA VOICE
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Rep. John Lewis, gay inaugural poet Richard Blanco headline Decatur Book Festival By ROBIN KEMP Congressman John Lewis, whose courageous nonviolent actions helped pave the way for racial equality in this country, is the keynote speaker at this year’s AJC Decatur Book Festival, set for Labor Day Weekend. Lewis will give the keynote address Friday, Aug. 30, at 8 p.m., at the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts at Emory University. Although the keynote is sold out, Lewis will sign his graphic novel “March,” the ﬁrst in a series chronicling the Civil Rights Movement for a new generation of readers, at the AJC Pavilion also on Aug. 31 at 1 p.m. “We’re absolutely thrilled to have him as the keynote at the festival,” says DBF Programming Director Philip Rafshoon, who previously owned Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse. Lewis’s graphic novel may seem like a radical departure from most Beltway autobiographies, but its appeal is to a much wider audience. “It opens up the window to so many people who may not have lived through [the Civil Rights Era], may not understand the changes the world has gone through, and really shows the difference that John Lewis has made,” Rafshoon says. Lewis organized lunch counter sit-ins, was a Freedom Rider, registered African-American voters across the South, and was one of only 10 people to speak at the March on Washington where Dr. Martin Luther King gave his “I Have A Dream” speech, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. He also was beaten severely, sustaining a deep skull fracture, at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in 1965. As a longtime friend of the LGBTQ community, “John’s somebody we all know. We see him on a regular basis; we see John Lewis walking down the street, but the difference he’s made in history, and the fact that he stood up for causes which might not have seemed ‘politically correct’ to do, has made such a difference, and it should be a lesson to people,” Rafshoon says.
FIRST OPENLY GAY INAUGURAL POET Richard Blanco became the nation’s ﬁrst openly gay inaugural poet when he read at President Barack Obama’s second inauguration, will give two readings at this year’s festival.
DETAILS AJC Decatur Book Festival Aug. 30-Sept. 1 www.decaturbookfestival.com
Fires,” Blanco explores the complex reality of Cubans living in exile from la madre patria, the delicate threads linking family members, and the human drive for belonging in an increasingly fragmented world. His poetry captures the shimmering, untouchable mirage: the vivid memory of a childhood vacation in old Florida, the words unsaid to a dying aunt and a dead father, the idealized Cuba of exile.
LGBT WRITERS FROM AROUND THE NATION
Gay poet Richard Blanco, who read an original poem at President Barack Obama’s second inauguration, reads on Saturday, Aug. 31. (Courtesy AJC Decatur Book Festival)
On Saturday at 11:15 a.m., he will read the inaugural poem “One Today” at the Decatur Presbyterian Sanctuary Stage. On Sunday at 11:55 a.m., Blanco will discuss “Poetry in the Public Life,” also at the Decatur Presbyterian Sanctuary Stage, with Kevin Young, Esther Lee and P. Scott Cunningham. “Of course we’re very excited to have Richard Blanco,” says Rafshoon. “He read at the inauguration in January, he put a face on poetry for so many people around the world, and being openly gay, I think, is very important to so many people out there.” Born in Spain to Cuban exile parents who ﬂed the island when Fidel Castro took power, Blanco grew up in the United States and makes his living as an engineer. His latest book, “Looking for the Gulf Motel,” combines what Blanco calls “the blurry lines of gender, the frailty of my father-son relationship, and the intersection of my cultural and sexual identities as a Cuban-American gay man presently living in rural Maine.” As in his earlier works, “Directions to the Beach of the Dead” and “City of a Hundred
This year’s Decatur Book Festival includes the largest LGBT track in the event’s history. Among the LGBT authors from around the nation who will attend: • Wayne Koestenbaum, a New York avantgarde poet-critic who rubbed elbows with Andy Warhol, John Ashbery, Diane Arbus, Brigitte Bardot, Cary Grant, and Lana Turner, will read from “My 1980s and Other Essays.” “Wayne is a brilliant writer, he’s a great poet,” Rafshoon says. This book is a series of essays, some of them just random rants on his feelings during the 1980s and living through the whole AIDS epidemic in New York. • Manil Suri returns to Atlanta after being the keynote speaker at the Atlanta Queer Lit Fest several years ago. Suri will be reading from his controversial novel, “The City of Devi,” that is set in the apocalyptic future and includes one of the ﬁrst openly gay characters in IndianAmerican literature. “This [book] has caused quite a stir both here and in India. Manil has given several interviews on gay rights in India since the recent Supreme Court ruling on same sex marriage equality,” says Franklin Abbott, founder of the Atlanta Queer Lit Fest. • Abbott is also excited about Alysia Abbott’s (no relation) visit to DBF to read from her book, “Fairyland,” a memoir about her father. She tells the story of growing up with her openly gay father, a noted poet, during San Francisco’s glory days and as the AIDS crisis descended on the city. Alysia was born in Atlanta and her parents attended Emory University. Her father served as president of Emory’s student body in 1972 and was also a cartoonist for the alternative newspaper The Great Speckled Bird. The two moved out west after Alysia’s mother died in a car accident.
SATURDAY, AUG. 31 10-10:45 a.m. — Justin Lee, “Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate, Marriott Conference Center Auditorium 11:15 a.m.-Noon — Kevin Riley, Richard Blanco, “One Today,” Decatur Presbyterian Sanctuary Stage 12:30-1:15 p.m. — Manil Suri, “The City of Devi,” Marriott Conference Center Ballroom B 1:45-2:30 p.m. — Ashok Rajamani and Christal Presley, “Picking Up the Pieces,” Eddie’s Attic 3-3:45 p.m. — Yolo Akili, “Dear Universe: Letters of Affirmation and Empowerment for All of Us,” Marriott Conference Center Auditorium 3-3:45 p.m. — Wayne Koestenbaum, Richard Eldredge, “My 1980s and Other Essays,” Eddie’s Attic 4:15-5 p.m. — Linda Hirshman, “Victory: The Triumphant Gay Revolution,” Old Courthouse Stage 5:30-6:30 p.m. — Megan Volpert, others, “This Assignment Is So Gay” book launch, Decatur High School Stage SUNDAY, SEPT. 1 Noon-12:45 p.m. — Robert Sherer and Diana McClintock, “Outsider Artists,” Decatur Library Stage 1-1:45 p.m. — Sara Farizan and David Levithan, “Love is Love,” Teen Stage 1:15-2 p.m. — Alysia Abbott, “Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father,” Marriott Conference Center Ballroom B 1:15-2 p.m. — Skyy, Nikki Rashan and Fiona Zedde, “Spies, Lies and Lovers,” Marriot Conference Center Auditorium 2:30-3:15 p.m. — David McConnell and Stacy Braukman, “American Homophobia,” City Hall Stage 2:30-3:15 p.m. — Chelsea Rathburn and Carl Phillips, “Damage,” Old Courthouse Stage 3:45-4:30 p.m. — Daniel Winunwe Rivers, “Radical Relations: Lesbian Mothers, Gay Fathers and Their Children in the U.S.” book launch, City Hall Stage 5-5:45 p.m. — Tracee McDaniel, “Transitions: Memoir of a Transsexual Woman,” Marriott Conference Center Auditorium
g the e,
tters f Us,”
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
By DYANA BAGBY
Georgia may be far behind in its recognition of LGBT equality, but the annual AJC Decatur Book Festival continues to strive harder each year to support local and internationally known queer writers and artists. This year’s LGBT track at DBF is the largest ever, and marks a signiﬁcant milestone in the renowned book festival’s history. “This year is the queerest year yet at DBF … we have a plethora of LGBT authors both on and off the [LGBT] track,” said Franklin Abbott, chair of the Atlanta Queer Literary Fest. Abbott said he worked with Philip Rafshoon, former owner of Outwrite Bookstore and now program director for the Decatur Book Fest, as well as with the owners of Charis Books & More to come up with the LGBT track.
The Decatur Book Fest includes several writers well-known in local literary circles. • Megan Volpert, an openly gay Fulton County high school teacher for eight years, is editor of the new book “This Assignment Is So Gay” that she hopes will be read by teachers, students, parents, counselors and anyone who likes poetry. Volpert and poets featured in the anthology will launch the book on Saturday, Aug. 31, at 5:30 p.m. at Decatur High School. State Rep. Karla Drenner (D-Avondale Estates) will give introductory remarks and there will be readings from the anthology and a panel discussion. “It’s a great set of poems, even if you don’t have a special interest in teaching or queer issues,” Volpert said. “It’s a great conversation about LGBTIQ visibility, even if you don’t usually like poetry or don’t have any opinions about education. “And it’s an utterly remarkable behind-the-scenes look at the sto-
GA VOICE | 15
Local LGBT writers shine Labor Day weekend
Former Atlantan Alysia Abbott reads Sunday, Sept. 1, from ‘Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father,’ about growing up with her gay dad. (Photo by Amber Davis Tourlentes)
Megan Volpert, a Fulton County high school teacher, is the editor of the new book, ‘This Assignment Is So Gay,’ which features poetry from many local poets. (Photo by Rob Friedman)
ries emerging in the profession of teaching, Stacy Braukman’s book ‘Communists and Perverts even if you’re not an educator.” under the Palms: The Johns Committee in Florida, 1956The title of the book is, well, interesting. 1965’ examines a McCarthyesque investigating committee “Many times there is only one openly gay tasked with weeding out gay people from the state’s teacher in a school, and s/he consequently academic institutions. (Photo by Amy Hurd) has no support network for certain things. Hearing a student complain, ‘this assign- the City Hall Stage. ment is so gay’ (meaning ‘stupid’), is one very The book explores the tactics used by the common story to which all teachers imme- Florida Legislative Investigation Committee, diately relate, so it was an obvious choice for now remembered as the Johns Committee, the title,” she said. that was charged with the task of “unearth• Collin Kelley, author of “Conquering Ve- ing communist tendencies, homosexual nus” and “Remain in the Light” as well as edi- persuasions and anything they saw as subtor of Atlanta INtown newspaper, is included versive behavior in academic institutions in this year’s Poetry track with his new book throughout Florida.” of poems, “Render.” He will be reading along Braukman spent years going through will fellow queer poet Theresa archives and documents after Davis from the Local Poetry learning about the committee Stage on Saturday, Aug. 31, at in 1993 when its records were 2 p.m. opened to the public and media “[T]he poems in Render … outlets began covering the story. were written over a decade — Within those documents hidroughly 2003 to 2012 — and den for so long were the dealings they are the most personal of a “committee that operated in work I’ve ever put in front of very shady, and sometimes bithe public,” he said. zarre” way, she explained. • Stacy Braukman, who Coverage included graphic works at Georgia Tech, has a sexual content, examples of honew book titled, “Communists mosexual sting operations and and Perverts Under the Palms: coercive interrogations held in The Johns Committee in Flori- Collin Kelley, who is gay, will motel rooms and basements. da, 1956-1965.” She will be part be featured on the Poetry Track “The committee, for a brief of a panel discussion titled at this year’s fest with his new time, actually enjoyed a certain “American Homophobia” on book, ‘Render.’ (Photo by Colin measure of legitimacy in the Sunday, Sept. 1, at 2:30 p.m. on Potts) state,” she said.
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Brandy headlines Black Gay Pride events
GA VOICE | 17
Brandy performed in Atlanta in 2011 for Atlanta’s Black Gay Pride and returns this year. (Photo by Dyana Bagby)
Second annual Pure Heat Community Fest set for Piedmont Park By DYANA BAGBY Brandy returns to Atlanta for Black Gay Pride over Labor Day weekend and will stop by the second annual Pure Heat Community Festival in Piedmont Park to accept an award thanking her for her support of the LGBT community. She will also perform at parties taking place over the weekend. The Pure Heat Festival, organized by Traxx Girls and the Vision Community Foundation, takes place on the Sunday, Sept. 1. Last year, hundreds packed the park to watch a J-sette competition, a hair styling competition, many independent performing artists as well as headliner R&B singer KeKe Wyatt, who had the crowd swaying to the beats and singing along. This year’s star is singer and actress Brandy, who is set to receive an award from Traxx Girls and the Vision Community Foundation. “We want to thank her for her support to our community,” said Avian Watson, an organizer of Pure Heat. Watson said she did not yet know if Brandy would perform at the festival. Brandy is also scheduled to host Wassup N ATL’s Sunday night party, “The Boys Are Mine,” at the Georgia Freight Depot with doors opening at 10 p.m. and the party going until 5 a.m. Party promoters will be out in full force with their signature events for the annual Black Gay Pride celebration, but many are still in the planning stages. Look for Ladies At Play to host a DJ battle at Aurum, a Gala party at Aja on Sunday and a Recovery party on Monday at Loca Luna. Traxx Atlanta hosts its annual Fire & Desire Mini Ball at XS Ultra Lounge on Friday; a Soaking Wet Dream Pool Party on Saturday at Hilton Garden Inn and Homewood Suites; its annual block party on the block of 708 Spring St. and Third Street, also on Saturday; and its Saturday Night Live party at 595 North. K. Michelle from VH1’s Love & Hip Hop Atlanta
will be at Traxx’s Celebrity Showtime Sunday at Mansion party. Rockstars Production will also feature live performances from Love & Hip Hop Atlanta’s Joseline Hernandez at its Friday block party and K. Michelle at its headlining event on Sunday at Opera. In addition to Brandy at its Sunday party, WassupNATL will have adult entertainment star Redickulous at its Friday “Stars of the Stripper World” at Jungle, hosted by Brent Star. Brandy performed at her ﬁrst Atlanta Black Gay Pride event in 2011, headlining Traxx Girls and Traxx Atlanta parties by singing several songs. Brandy, now 33, had her own TV show, “Moesha,” from 1995-2000 on UPN and also recorded her debut album as a teenager, earning her a Grammy nomination in 1996 for the song, “Baby.” In 1999, she won the Grammy for the song “The Boy Is Mine.” Her latest album is “Two Eleven” — her birthday and also the day her idol, Whitney Houston, died.
PURE HEAT COMES BACK BIGGER
This year’s Pure Heat Community Fest, which beneﬁts the nonproﬁt Vision Community Foundation, will have a full-ﬂedged carnival in the pavilion grounds at Piedmont Park from new sponsor Project Turn Around. “We’re hosting a family day in the park with a carnival theme, including clowns, face painting, carnival games, rafﬂes,” said Ernest Jenkins of Project Turn Around, a new nonproﬁt that seeks to empower disenfranchised people. “Our main audience is LGBT people and we thought this festival would be a great way to give exposure to that community,” Jenkins said. This year’s hair battle at Pure Heat will be a bit different — stylists will compete against
public and religious ofﬁcials for the clock and each other DETAILS their work, said Tyai Gree, execuon stage to create a wintive secretary of ITLA. ning do. There will be Black Gay Pride Aug. 28-Sept. 1 “Everything done in prior music from the main Prides we are not doing this stage as well, including Pure Heat Community Festival year,” Green said. “We have toindie artists and R&B www.pureheatcommunityfestival.com tally changed Pride this year. singer Sammie, known In the Life Atlanta We have new leadership and for his 1999 hit “I Like I.” www.inthelifeatlanta.org we want to showcase our new He is now ﬁnishing up Traxx Girls energy, new vibe that is going his third album. www.traxxgirls.com on.” Project Turnaround On Wednesday, Aug. 28, the Traxx Atlanta will also sponsor a Jwww.traxxatlanta.com traditional candlelight vigil will sette competition hostbe replaced with a service called ed by D. Woods of DanWassup N ATL “As the Bell Tolls” that is a “celity Kane; $1,000 goes to www.wassupnatl.com ebration of life” and is open to evthe winners. The J-sette Ladies At Play eryone in the LGBT community, competition is also part www.ladiesatplay.com Green said. Dr. Edith Biggers, who of a documentary being RockStars Production is known for her work with HIV ﬁlmed in the park. www.rockstarsproduction.com patients, is the speaker for that A ball will also be event. held on the south side The ofﬁcial opening ceremoof the park hosted by Jaimee Robinson, known as the Face Diva, and ny for ITLA’s events takes place Wednesday night with a Skate Boyz party. famous transgender model Amiyah Scott. Also new this year is a Mr. and Ms. Atlanta “I feel like we are growing,” Watson said. “Last year was our ﬁrst year and we had the Black Gay Pride, a job fair, the play “Boi, Pull Your ﬁrst year jitters. But we really want to some- Pants Up!” that deals with HIV/AIDS social stigthing for our community. We’re very pleased ma, and a ﬁlm fest and literary cafe held at the with how things went last year and are going Auburn Avenue Research Library. ITLA’s Health & Life Expo will be held in Piedthis year. But we do need more sponsors, more mont Park on Sunday, Sept. 1, as part of the Pure vendor support and volunteers.” Heat Community Festival, Green explained. “ITLA had the same staff for quite a number ‘NEW ENERGY’ FOR ITLA In the Life Atlanta, Atlanta’s Black Gay Pride of years and for growth to happen there has to nonproﬁt organization, has undergone a com- be change,” Green said. “The community and its plete overhaul in leadership and features a new needs have Wchanged over the years and we are slate of events this year. The theme this year is ready to take it to another level. “This is a total rebranding of the organiza“Change. Grow. Evolve.” Gone is the State of Black Gay America Sum- tion, including a new logo, a new mission statemit held for the past six years. In its place is a ment, new events — this is totally a new day for community luncheon to recognize and honor ITLA,” Green said.
18 | GA VOICE
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
FILM BYJIM FARMER
Lee Daniels back with ‘The Butler’ Gay director recalls experiences with racism, homophobia Gay director Lee Daniels’ career has had two distinct stages. He was well known for producing ﬁlms such as “Monster’s Ball” and directing “Shadowboxer,” but his Academy-Award winning ﬁlm “Precious” pushed him ﬁrmly to the major leagues. Four years after “Precious” comes his new ﬁlm, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler.” It stars Forest Whitaker as Cecil Gaines, who begins working in the cotton ﬁelds of segregated 1920s Macon, Ga., is taught to be a house servant, and eventually gets a job as a butler in the White House, serving seven presidential administrations between 1957 and 1986. Returning to acting after an extended absence is Oprah Winfrey, who plays Cecil’s alcoholic wife Gloria. Several notable actors and actresses ﬁll in as presidents and ﬁrst ladies including John Cusack as Richard Nixon, Robin Williams as Dwight Eisenhower, Liev Schreiber as Lyndon B. Johnson, Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan and James Marsden as John F. Kennedy. Daniels’ ﬁlm, written by Danny Strong, is inspired by a “Washington Post” article written by Wil Haygood titled “A Butler Well Served by This Election,” which was about former White House butler Eugene Allen. This isn’t Daniels’ ﬁrst project since “Precious” (that would be last year’s campy Nicole KidmanZac Efron “The Paperboy”) but this puts him squarely back in awards contention. The ﬁlm offers a fascinating portrayal of Cecil’s rise as a butler through the changing face of the country — while his own son is at college becoming politically aware, joining the Black Panthers, unafraid to get arrested because of his stances. Daniels and Whitaker, who won a Best Actor Oscar for his role in 2006’s “The Last King of Scotland,” were in Atlanta last week promoting the ﬁlm. Daniels has been subject to racism, he admits. In the wake of the Trayvon Martin verdict, he says it’s tough having conversations with his son about racism. “The birds and the bees is an easier conversation,” he says. “It’s hard to tell your son he is less than just because, to explain to him why your white neighbors can get a taxi while you can’t in the same spot. I want him to be loved. I don’t want my son to go through all that.” Whitaker also recounts experiences of racism. “We of color know; we encounter it every day,” he says. “I don’t want to acknowledge it. It’s about moving on, getting through it.” Daniels’ dad died when he was young. Their relationship was not strong: His father was strict to the point of being abusive, but so were his fa-
In the new film from gay director Lee Daniels (above), Forest Whitaker stars as Cecil Gaines, a butler to seven U.S. presidents, beginning with Dwight D. Eisenhower (Robin Williams). Oprah Winfrey plays Cecil Gaines’ wife, Gloria, who has an affair with a man portrayed by Terrence Howard. (Film publicity photos; Daniels photo by Thomas Attila Lewis/ CC 3.0)
DETAILS ‘Lee Daniels’ The Butler’ Opens Aug. 16 www.weinsteinco.com/sites/leedanielsthebutler
ther’s father and grandfather and so. “That was a cycle that had to stop.” he says. “It came from slavery.” “I made this movie for my son. This movie is a love affair between father and son; it’s universal; beyond color,” Daniels says. “As black people we don’t see this. Few movies address this. For me, it’s not just a history lesson but showing us like we’ve never been seen before.” Although he has arranged a terriﬁc ensemble of performers, he notes that “Oprah said no a couple of times.” Daniels was not happy that the budget of the ﬁlm ($25 million) was lower than he wanted. “I wanted a bigger budget,” he says. “I assumed it if were Steven Spielberg (the budget) would have been a 70 million dollar movie. We worked for a fraction of our fees. It was a humbling experience; it brought us together.” Homophobia has also affected the director. “Not only have I been prejudiced upon as an African-American all my life, but as a gay man,” he says. “I was bullied. I didn’t go to the bathroom because I was bullied, called ‘sissy.’ From the time I was six through junior high school. My mother wanted me away from that environment.”
After his family moved from the area he faced more issues. “I went from [being called] ‘faggot faggot faggot’ to ‘nigger nigger nigger,’” Daniels recalls. “I think that has made me the man I am. That nuance, that gay man, is on every frame of the screen.” As part of his planning for “Precious,” he researched HIV/AIDS. He made a visit to the Gay Men’s Health Clinic in New York. He expected to see a room full of white men with HIV but instead was devastated when he saw “a sea of women and children” instead, all black. “I thought I was in the wrong room; I’m in the welfare ofﬁce,” he said. “They were all infected. They have trumped gay men with HIV. “The reason we are dealing with HIV in the African-American community is that black men have been castrated since slavery. So the concept of homosexuality or being homosexual is embarrassing. It’s been dealt with in different ways,” Daniels says. “We have to be strong black men. In doing so, we’ve denied who we are. Your church, your parents, coworkers, neighbors, friends say you can’t be out. In doing that, we’re infecting our women with HIV. “I did ‘Precious’ for all the African American men who are afraid to come out, because of the fear. It’s a powerful thing to own up to one’s sexuality.” “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” opens Aug. 16 in Atlanta theaters.
GA VOICE | 19
A very contemporary coming of age story from a new American master playwright.
“Vivid, magnetic and moving.” —The New York Times
“Believe the buzz! Choir Boy sings with smarts and heart.” —Variety
By Tarell Alvin McCraney, 2008 Alliance/Kendeda National Graduate Playwriting Competition Winner for In the Red and Brown Water Directed by Trip Cullman
September 20–October 13 Tickets @ 404.733.5000 alliancetheatre.org/choirboy Groups 404.733.4690
Series on the Hertz Stage
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
THEATER BY JIM FARMER
Barry Manilow’s ‘Harmony’ New musical explores boy band during Nazi rise
He writes the songs that make the whole world sing. And he’s the voice behind them as well: “Mandy,” “Copacabana” and dozens more. Now Barry Manilow is collaborating with the Alliance Theatre for the company’s 2013-2014 season opener, “Harmony – A New Musical,” taking the stage early next month. “Harmony” is the true story of what could be the ﬁrst boy band extraordinaire: The Comedian Humorists, composed of six young men in Germany in the 1920s. They sold millions of records and starred in ﬁlms. But three members were Jewish and as anti-Semitism grew, the group fell apart. Nazis eventually disbanded them. Manilow is surprised that the band is relatively obscure to today’s audiences. “They were huge in Europe, all over the place, but we didn’t know about them,” he says. “They were the Manhattan Transfer (of their age). They knocked us out.” He compares their humor to that of the Marx Brothers. The ﬁne line in “Harmony” is creating a musical with a great score (almost 20 songs in all) but with a darker subject — and not making it overly morose. Manilow is quick to point out that this isn’t a Holocaust musical. “It ends in 1935,” he says. While Manilow is handling the music for the production, his longtime writing partner Bruce Sussman is responsible for the book and lyrics. The Atlanta gig is directed by Broadway veteran Tony Speciale. Manilow and Sussman were in town recently for rehearsals and are pleased with what they are seeing. “It is going great,” Sussman says. “It’s been thrilling; it is going to be a spectacular show.” Sussman read an article about the Comedian Humorists and soon after saw the documentary about them. He knew he had a project. The musical was ﬁrst produced back in 1997 at the La Jolla Playhouse in La Jolla, Calif. The upcoming Atlanta show is the ﬁrst staging since, although there have been attempts to do it elsewhere. When Sussman and Manilow were looking around for a regional theater to re-stage it, people kept on mentioning the Alliance. They called and found a welcoming home. “Harmony” has been tightened since the 1997 production. The ﬁrst act is much shorter, Sussman says. He refers to it as a new vision. Both men feel “Harmony” is especially relevant for LGBT audiences. “Who wouldn’t relate to six friends in trouble
‘Who wouldn’t relate to six friends in trouble creating beautiful music in a terrible time?’ asks pop legend Barry Manilow (right), who collaborated on ‘Harmony – A New Musical’ with longtime writing partner Bruce Sussman. (Courtesy photo)
DETAILS “Harmony – A New Musical” Sept. 6 – Oct. 6 Alliance Theatre www.alliancetheatre.org “Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical” Through August 18 Serenbe Playhouse www.serenbeplayhouse.org
creating beautiful music in a terrible time?” Manilow says. Sussman believes “any group in the shadows or that have been in the shadows” can empathize with the characters. During the course of the musical is the rise of national socialism and the tracking down of gays and lesbians, he says. After the Atlanta engagement, the musical will travel to Los Angeles. Beyond that, where it goes is anyone’s guess, although Sussman and Manilow certainly would not be opposed to taking it elsewhere. For now, though, “our blinders are on; we’re only thinking of this production,” says Sussman. Although they love the pop songs that made Manilow popular, the two realize that doing a stage musical takes a good ﬁve years to produce. Previously, the two worked on a stage version of “Copacabana” together, as well as a few ﬁlms. The secret to a 41-year working relationship, both men feel, is knowing how to collaborate — knowing that it’s okay sometimes to make a fool out of yourself and try new things until it all clicks.
Getting a one-week extension is Serenbe Playhouse’s “Hair,” the ‘60s rock musical that closes out the company’s three-show summer season. Brian Clowdus, the openly gay artistic direc-
On Stage ONGOING
“Young Frankenstein” Through Aug. 17 Onstage Atlanta www.onstageatlanta.com Out performers Jeffery Brown and Cathe Hall Payne are in the cast of this musical version of the Mel Brooks comedy. “Les Miserables” Through Sept. 8 Aurora Theatre www.auroratheatre.com A number of gay actors appear in the ensemble of this lavish musical, based on the Victor Hugo novel and a Tony and Oscar winner.
“Trash” Sept. 6 – Sept. 28 The Process Theatre at Onstage Atlanta www.onstageatlanta.com Johnny Drago’s world premiere is described as “The Glass Menagerie” meets “Hoarders” meets Anna Nicole Smith. A former D-movie starlet meets a handsome stranger. DeWayne Morgan stars.
tor of the company, is directing this version, as well as ﬁlling in for the role of Berger this weekend. In his hands, “Hair” is beautifully executed, with an ensemble cast that rabidly tears through the material. It’s one of the best local musicals in recent years. If you haven’t seen it, do so before it closes.
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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
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PHOTOS by SHER PRUITT
Rainbow over Six Flags
The fourth annual Rainbow Days at Six Flags Over Georgia drew LGBT crowds to the Atlanta amusement park Aug. 10, with Gold Ticket holders enjoying a special pavilion with entertainment and dinner. The day also included a commitment ceremony. A portion of proceeds from the event will be donated to two LGBT nonproďŹ ts: the Health Initiative, which focuses on health and wellness, and Lost-N-Found Youth, which helps homeless LGBT young people.
Find full photo albums from this and other events @ www.thegavoice.com
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FRIDAY, AUG. 16
Join Atlanta Pride for a screening of the film “Strong!” — detailing CrossFit Midtown’s Cheryl Haworth and her quest to compete in the 2008 Olympics, 7 p.m., CrossFit Midtown, www.crossfitmidtown.com
SATURDAY, AUG. 17
Photo by Dyana Bagby
Lesbian-inclusive alterna-grass band Roxie Watson performs with Brian Perry for an 8 p.m. show at Eddie Owen Presents at the Red Clay Theatre. www.eddieowenpresents.com
WEDNESDAY, AUG. 21 Play The Match Game and Family Feud at the monthly Big Gay Game Show, benefiting Lost-N-Found Youth. 7:30 – 10 p.m., Jungle Atlanta, www.jungleatl.com
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FRIDAY, AUG. 16
Angels Pet Rescue is the beneficiary as the Atlanta Dream takes on the Connecticut Sun, with donations and pet supplies being collected beforehand at the pregame event at Taco Mac at Philips Arena from 5 – 7 p.m. and the game from 7:30 – 10:30 p.m., www.philipsarena.com Contestants will compete for the titles of Mr., Mrs. and Bootblack Leather at the Hideaway Leather Contest 2014, beginning at 5 p.m. tonight at Roy’s Hideaway Campground, www.royshideaway.com The award-winning “The House I Love In” screens at the Third Friday film series at 7 p.m. at First Existentialist Congregation, www.firstexistentialist.org The ACT UP Atlanta film festival, celebrating the 25th anniversary of the organization, begins tonight with “United in Anger: A History of ACT UP.” Panelists who were founding members of the ACT UP Atlanta movement will speak and raw footage from some of their actions will be shown at 7 p.m. at St. Mark United Methodist Church, www.stmarkumc.org/ Topher Payne’s play “Evelyn in Purgatory” gets a second local staging, this time by Out of Box Theatre, opening tonight at 8 p.m., www. outofboxtheatre.com Direct from Las Vegas comes the Magic Mike male revue show at 8 p.m., Wild Bills, www.wildbillsatlanta.com Every year, Mary’s pays homage to the grand dame of pop music, Madonna, at MadonnaRama, with music videos, performances and costume contests, 10 p.m., Mary’s, http://www.marysatlanta.com Bedlam presents a Pajama PillowPow Party, with all sorts of nightwear encouraged and DJ Shane V spinning at 10:30 p.m. at Jungle Atlanta, www.jungleatl.com Fireball’s Red Hot party, hosted by Ruby Redd with a red underwear contestant, is tonight at 11 p.m. Burkhart’s, www.burkharts.com
SATURDAY, AUG. 17
The ACT UP Atlanta film festival, celebrating the 25th anniversary of the organization, con-
SATURDAY, AUG. 17
All the way from the West Coast comes Haus of Stiel, with DJ Shane Stiel and andro-drag performer Grace Towers, 10 p.m. – 3 a.m., at Heretic Atlanta, www.hereticatlanta.com Publicity photo via Facebook
SOMETHING GAY EVERY DAY! Bookmark www.thegavoice.com to get your daily dose of local LGBT events.
tinues today with “How to Survive a Plague” at 10:30 a.m., St. Mark United Methodist Church, www.stmarkumc.org/ Bring a loved one — and wear red to the “Love Is Love” Marriage Equality photo campaign, 3 – 5:30 p.m. at Ten Atlanta, www.tenatlanta.com A playoff double bill – the Atlanta Rollergirls skate twice today, at 5 p.m. and again at 7:30 p.m., at the Yaarab Shrine Center, www.atlantarollergirls.com The Lesbian 50+ Potluck and Social begins at 6 p.m. at the Rush Center, www.rushcenteratl.org Join author Kenya Jackson as she discusses concepts from her self-help memoir, “empty. s p a c e: Where is My Stuff? Navigating the Quarterlife Crisis with Wisdom and Skill” at 7:30 p.m. at Charis, www.charisbooksandmore.com Atlanta-based rock band The Sexual Side
Effects team up with the Imperial Opa Circus for a 10 p.m. show at Macon’s Hummingbird Stage & Taproom, www.hummingbirdmacon.com The Glo Paint Party promises a night of fun, with body painting, DJ Liz Owen and go-go dancers as part of the club’s 17th anniversary, My Sister’s Room, www.mysistersroom.com
SUNDAY, AUG. 18
Bruno Mars brings his hits to Philips Arena at 7:30 p.m., www.philipsarena.com Sexy Josh Groban performs at 8 p.m. at Chastain Park, www.chastainseries.com/ Auditions for OurSong, the South’s pre-eminent gay and lesbian mixed chorus, begin tonight; to audition call 404-487-8717 or send an email to Info@OurSongAtlanta.org The Armorettes perform at 8 p.m. at Burkhart’s, www.burkharts.com
MONDAY, AUG. 19
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Photo by Dyana Bagby
Stars of the Century is a weekly drag tradition at 11:30 p.m. at Jungle, www.jungleatl.com
TUESDAY, AUG. 20
SATURDAY, AUG. 24 Pocket Rocket and Ready for Hope present a Bear-B-Que, with DJ Vicki Powell, 2 – 6 p.m., Atlanta Eagle, www.atlantaeagle.com
FRIDAY, AUG. 23
Author Melody Moezzi discusses her “Haldol and Hyacinths: A Bipolar Life” at 7:30 p.m. at Charis Books, www.charisbooksandmore.com Blake’s hosts a karaoke fundraiser for the Atlanta Humane Society with Sasie Monroe at 11 p.m., Blake’s, www.blakesontheparkatlanta.com Tuesdays, Thursdays and early Saturdays are Three Legged Cowboy country nights at the Heretic, www.hereticatlanta.com Every Tuesday, sing out at Mary-oke starting at 9 p.m. at Mary’s, www.marysatlanta.com
THURSDAY, AUG. 22
Holly Williams performs at Red Clay Theatre at 8 p.m., www.eddieowenpresents.com
Trader Vic’s tiki bar hosts the antics of Jaye Lish and her Birds of Paradise show at 9:30 p.m., Trader Vic’s, www.tradervicsatl.com
FRIDAY, AUG. 23
The Atlanta Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce hosts the 2013 Community Awards Dinner at 7 p.m. at the Intercontinena at tal Buckhead, www.atlantagaychamber.org This month’s Civil Rights movie night film is “The Great Debaters,” screening at 7 p.m. at St. Mark United Methodist Church, www.stmarkumc.org/
minight; Author Sikivu Hutchinson visits Charis to ail to speak about her book “Godless Americana: Race and Religious Rebels,” from 7:30 – 9 p.m. at Charis, www.charisbooksandmore.com A week-long celebration of city of Atlanta, with music, art, photography, fashion and more, live//
local begins tonight at 10 p.m. at the W Downtown, www.watlantadowntown.com/sun The Grown & Sexy Party heats up with DJ Smash at 10 p.m. Fridays at Mixx, www.mixxatlanta.com Angelica D’Paige hosts “The Fab Five” drag show revue with an amazing line-up of performers, 11 p.m. at Burkharts, www.burkharts.com
SATURDAY, AUG. 24
Comedians, drag performers and more come together at “Laughter, Lashes & Live,” as the Atlanta Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence raise money for their grant fund, 6 p.m. at Mixx Atlanta, www.mixxatlanta.com The fourth annual Fire party, sponsored by Fenuxe and celebrating the best of Atlanta, 6:30 p.m. at Opera, http://fireparty2013-efbevent.eventbrite.com Enjoy dinner and a screening of “The Wiz” at Lift Up Atlanta movie night at 7 p.m. at the Rush Center, www.RushCenterAtl.org Shavonna B. Brooks leads “Extravaganza” at 11 p.m. at Burkhart’s, www.burkharts.com
SUNDAY, AUG. 25
Atlanta Dixieland Bowling hosts its welcome back/after party, allowing players to sign up for fall leagues, 12 p.m., Funtime Bowling, www.funtimebowl.com
MONDAY, AUG. 26
Benefiting Susan G. Komen For the Cure and the Atlanta AIDS Fund, the annual Jeffrey Fashion Cares event is tonight at 7 p.m. at the American Cancer Society Center, www.jeffreyfashioncares.com
Amanda Lepore joins The Other Show XXXL at 9:30 p.m., Jungle Atlanta, www.jungleatl.com
TUESDAY, AUG. 27
The lesbian social networking group Fourth Tuesday hosts its monthly dinner at a different restaurant each month, this month at Coco Cabana, from 6 – 10 p.m., www.thehealthinitiative.org
WEDNESDAY, AUG. 28
Atlanta Pride hosts the Trans March Planning event at Charis at 6 p.m., www.charisbooksandmore.com
THURSDAY, AUG. 29
Author Sara Farizan discusses her book “If You Could Be Mine” and the political realities that inspired the stories, 7:30 p.m., Charis, www.charisbooksandmore.com
Photo by Dyana Bagby
“Drag Star Season 5” continues at Le Buzz, www.thenewlebuzz.com
Photo by Gabriel Moginot / CC 3.0
Poker night out — play Texas Hold ‘Em for free at 8:30 p.m. at Friends on Ponce, www.friendsonponce-atl.com
WEDNESDAY, AUG. 28
Get out the roller skates for the Skateboyz Black Pride kickoff event, 8 p.m. at Metro Skates, http://metroplexatl.com/metro-games/
Phoenix from “Rupaul’s Dance Race” is one of the performers and hosts of Dancefloor Divas, 11 p.m. at Burkhart’s, www.burkharts.com $3 Thursdays are part of “Where the Party At?” night at 11 p.m. at Phase One, www.wassupnatl.com
THURSDAY, AUG. 29MONDAY, SEPT. 2
Experience a throwback to summer camp with color wars, swimming and singing around the campfire, plus DJs, live performances and more as Gay & Lesbian Adults Camp hosts a women-only event over Labor Day Weekend in Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Registration is due by Aug. 16. www.glaclgbt.com
CONTINUED ON PAGE 27
Courtesy photo via Facebook
A youth-focused group for trans people, people questioning their own gender, and aspiring allies, Trans and Friends: a Project of the Feminist Outlawz takes place tonight at 7 p.m. at Charis, www.charisbooksandmore.com
DJ Osmose and special guests join for a night of rcus boogie at Disco in the Village, 9 p.m. at Mary’s, ird www.marysatlanta.com
WEDNESDAY, AUG. 28
Atlanta’s best comics, gay and straight, come together for the ABear Comedy Show hosted by Ian Aber. 8 p.m. at the Jungle, benefitting Lost-n-Found Youth, www.jungleatl.com
LABOR DAY WEEKEND Photo by Dyana Bagby
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Black Gay Pride draws tens of thousands to Atlanta every Labor Day weekend for a packed schedule of community events and nightlife parties. Highlights include events from nonprofit coordinator In the Life Atlanta (http://inthelifeatlanta.org) and Sunday’s Pure Heat Community Festival, created by the Vision Community Foundation and Traxx Girls (http://pureheatcommunityfestival.com). Many other party promoters also have multiple events; see story on Page 17 and a special section in the Aug. 30 issue of GA Voice.
LABOR DAY WEEKEND
The Decatur Book Festival takes place this weekend, with an impressive LGBT track. See stories on Pages 14-15. www.decaturbookfestival.com
FRIDAY, AUG. 30
DJs Jonny Mack and Sean Mawc liven up Bear Invasion at 9 p.m. at the Heretic, www.hereticatlanta.com
SATURDAY, AUG. 31
The Auburn Avenue Research Library presents Pride in the Black LGBTQ Community, with film screenings and a literary café, 12 p.m., www.afpls.org/aarl
MONDAY, SEPT. 2
The PFLAG Atlanta support meeting takes place at 7:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta, www.uuca.org
WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 4SUNDAY, SEPT. 8
The Southern Comfort Conference, one of the nation’s largest events for transgender
people and allies, convenes at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Atlanta Perimeter at Ravinia for a long weekend of education, empowerment and social events. http://sccatl.org
FRIDAY, SEPT. 6
The Barry Manilow musical “Harmony” opens at 8 p.m. the Alliance Theatre, www.alliancetheatre.com Johnny Drago’s world premiere “Trash” opens at 8 p.m. at Onstage Atlanta, www.onstageatlanta.com DJ Vicki Powell and DJ Ree De Le Vega are part of “Getting Dirty in Atlanta,” an after-party for Southern Comfort Conference attendees at 10 p.m., www. atlantaeagle.com
TUESDAY, SEPT. 10
Local filmmaker Cindy Abel celebrates the finish of her moving documentary “Breaking Through,” about openly LGBT elected officials, at a wrap party, 6:30 p.m. at Tribute Lofts Skyroom. www.breakingthroughmovie.com
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. . .
What is Out on Film?
Out on Film is Atlanta’s own LGBT film festival. We’re in our 26th season. Out on Film was created in 1987 to inform, entertain, educate and enrich the regional LGBT community by recognizing the creative work of LGBT artists and professionals.
What films will be shown?
Out on Film selects a variety of films for our LGBT audiences, including comedies, dramas, romances and documentaries. In addition, we screen multi-racial and multi-cultural films.
Where is the event?
Our Movies • Our Stories • Our Lives
Atlanta’s LGBT Film Festival Celebrating Pride at the Movies October 3 - 10, 2013 Landmark Midtown Art Cinema
The majority of films are shown at the Landmark Midtown Art Cinema, 931 Monroe Drive, Atlanta GA 30308. Additional screenings will be held at other local venues.
How do I buy tickets?
Tickets can be purchased at www.outonfilm. org, the Landmark theater, and online at the Landmark’s website. Please visit www.outonfilm.org for more ticket information.
Are there other activities?
Yes. Out on Film schedules opening and closing night parties plus events before and after select films, including Q&As with filmmakers.
How can I learn more?
For details about films and schedules, including trailers, special events, and volunteering go to
THAT'S WHAT SHE SAID Toddler time
New job means returning to my childhood schedule In the immortal words of Justin Bieber, “Never Say Never.” Despite thinking I would never go back to morning radio, I have joined B98.5 and am one of the hosts of their new morning show, “Jeff and Melissa.” Now that I am back to an early morning schedule, there are challenges to living a life of sleep deprivation. Imagine your body is a racecar. Living this lifestyle is asking your body to run a normal race every day with only about half a gas tank of energy. So you have to try and maintain some kind of balance in order to stay as healthy as possible. Because of this, I’m having to treat myself much like a toddler, and put myself on a toddler’s schedule. First there is BREAKFAST. For a toddler, the challenge is to make sure you are providing the little one with enough nutrition for its growing bones and muscles. For me, breakfast is at 4 a.m., so I want to make sure I eat something that will get me through the show and not shock my body at that ungodly hour. Then there is the mid-morning SNACK. This is the real key to staying ﬁt despite the lack of energy. If you don’t plan ahead this is the time most people with an odd schedule will go to a vending machine, or eat the candy out of someone’s desktop dish. You tend to eat more when you haven’t slept well, and before you know it you’ve gained 10-20 pounds because of habits from this time of day. You wouldn’t give a small child an unhealthy snack, and I have to follow suit with me. Having fun and getting exercise is important for any wee one, but somehow as we grow older consistently incorporating PLAYTIME in
Melissa Carter is also a writer for Huffington Post. She broke ground as the first out lesbian radio personality on a major station in Atlanta and was one of the few out morning show personalities in the country. Follow her on Twitter @MelissaCarter
our daily routine doesn’t seem to be a priority. In order to stay healthy on this kind of schedule I have to exercise every day and allow my body a chance to work out its kinks. As with kids, wearing myself out with physical activity will also force my body to sleep better, regardless of how many hours of it I get. Another important part of my new day is NAP TIME. Everyone understands when a toddler has to be put down for a nap, but as an adult you feel silly announcing to people you are not available because you have to sleep in the middle of the day. However, without that nap I cannot function normally, and without the rest I tend to become quite fussy. However, as an adult my being cranky is not considered cute or excusable. Parents ﬁnd it important for their young children to have plenty of SOCIAL INTERACTION. That allows their verbal communication skills to excel and gives them a sense of community. The only way to feel normal on a morning show schedule is spending time with family and friends, and those experiences will allow me to have a sense of who I am and better relate to my audience. Like a toddler, I now have a set BEDTIME. I’ve never been someone who falls asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow, so I have to go to bed early enough to get plenty of rest before the 3:30am alarm clock rings. My only question, is it too much for me to ask Katie Jo to read me a bedtime story? I am very excited to be able to reconnect with listeners and be part of a new venture. As long as I follow the same schedule Millie Pete had me on four decades ago, I will be ﬁne.
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Domestically DISTURBED My battle for a good night’s sleep
It’s four in the morning. I wake up agitated. It’s too quiet. I realize the air-conditioning isn’t running. The bedspread is on the ﬂoor, and the sheets are soaked with sweat. The room even smells hot. Confounded by this, I check the thermostat. It’s 86 degrees, which would be perfect if I was at a barbecue, but not really ideal for a night’s sleep. There’s air coming out of the vents. Warm air, mocking me. I throw on boxers and look at my husband snoring contentedly. I have no idea how he sleeps through stuff like this. I’ve always been the person who wakes up at the slightest provocation, bolting up to seek the source of sound. My father used to go to work at ﬁve every morning, and I’d jump out of bed when I heard him in the kitchen. I couldn’t keep myself in the bed, knowing there was something going on in the house which required investigation. I’d ﬁnd Dad at the kitchen table, eating Raisin Bran in his postal uniform. “You should get some sleep,” he’d say. “Everything’s okay.” When I was young and cute, I dated a fella named John whose next door neighbor loved reggae music. John’s neighbor seemed to particularly love reggae music at three in the morning, played at a volume which provoked a rage in me I was not previously aware I possessed. I would toss and turn in John’s bed, pillow over my head, trying my best to avoid confrontation. But it was no use. I’d pound on the wall with a shoe, and the music would get louder. Without his hearing aids John was profoundly deaf, so he was oblivious to all of this. I’d try to explain my frustration to John the next morning. He’d just tell me not to worry about it, that I should just stay in bed and get some sleep, as though that were an option. How does one explain annoying sounds to a deaf person? I told him the aggravation was like having roaches crawl all over me.
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Topher Payne is an Atlanta-based playwright, and the author of the book “Necessary Luxuries: Notes on a Semi-Fabulous Life.” Find out more at www.topherpayne.com
Later, when John started having nightmares about bugs attacking him in his bed, he blamed me. The air conditioning unit for our house is right outside the bedroom window of our schizophrenic neighbor, because OF COURSE IT IS. She already thinks I’m planting listening devices under her house — I know Crazypants wouldn’t hesitate to use lethal force if she sees my shadow. I consider the very real possibility that these could be the ﬁnal moments of my life, and wish I’d eaten more cheese. Then I creep around the house, feeling like the guy from the Neighborhood Watch signs come to stumbling life. I shine my ﬂashlight on the inactive unit, remembering all the people who told us to buy a house and stop throwing away money on rent. Screw those people. I wish I had a landlord right now. I consider kicking the air conditioner, because that tends to work with vending machines when they won’t relinquish my Snickers, but decide against it. I follow a cable to a fuse box on the side of the house, covered in ivy. I start ripping the ivy off, delighted by a possible solution. That’s when I see the big spider. It’s one of those fat, hairy bastards. This launches me ﬁve feet back, having a small panic attack. Because I saw “Arachnophobia” at a particularly impressionable age, I have always viewed spiders as malicious, calculating creatures, hell-bent on world domination. Even Charlotte’s Web gave me the heebie-jeebies, especially because she had Debbie Reynolds’ voice, and frankly I ﬁnd that woman alarming. She’s like a garden gnome in drag. Now the spider is the only thing standing between me and cool air, and by extension, sleep. I take off one of my ﬂip-ﬂops and run toward the fuse box kamikaze-style. I smack the hairy monster off the box, ﬂip a switch, and the air conditioner returns to life with the sound I was hoping for. Then the light comes on in Crazypants’s bedroom, and I run for the house like I’ve been set on ﬁre. I’ve fought enough battles for one night. Everything’s okay. I should get some sleep.
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Hot and bothered
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fulton county arts & culture
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 Georgia Council for the Arts through appropriations from the Georgia General Assembly. GCA is a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts. This program is supported in part by the City of Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs.
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