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2 LinQ // FEBRUARY 2017

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IN THIS ISSUE #IAINTYOSAFETYPIN

Carol Taylor-Shim tells us of her feelings on being asked to attend events or to volunteer in an age of safety pins and cyberactivism. PAGES 10 & 11

ROGER WARE

RUNS FOR MAYOR

30 years before Jim Gray, Lexington had an openly gay candidate for mayor. J.P. Johnson, Kentucky Room Librarian Associate, delves into Lexington’s LGBTQ* history with the story of Roger Ware. PAGE 15

RELUCTANT PRIDE

Memories of George Michael, 19632016. Paul Brown, 2017 Pride Festival Chair, remembers George Michael, his life, career, and his initial reluctance to live his life open and proud. PAGES 18 & 19

FEB 2017 VOL 39 / NO. 2 FEATURE STORY WRITE IT DOWN PLEASE!

Reinette Jones, Bluegrass Black Pride Co-Chair, discusses the seldom heard but rich history of the Black LGBTQ* Community in Kentucky. PAGE 17

FAIRNESS IN FRANKFORT? 

DON’T COUNT ON IT! Josh Mers, Lexington Fairness Chairman, gives us a run-down of what is happening in Frankfort for this  2017 legislative session and his thoughts  on  the proceedings. PAGE 8

photo from Lexington’s Women’s March on January 21st more photos in Out & About on pages 20 & 21

FEBRUARY 2017 // LinQ 3


TALKIN’ ABOUT

HUMOR

by Helena Handbasket

W

ell, kids, you know that I am an open book, for the most part, and so this month is no different than any other. It’s February and we are already into our second month of 2017. I have always been careful to only make resolutions that seemed attainable, which is why I really didn’t make any this year. What might seem important to me today might change tomorrow, therefore, why should I make a commitment that I probably won’t keep? I have very little patience for people who make promises and then don’t keep them. This rule applies to myself as well. However, I did start something back on November 7th that I am excited to share with ya’ll. Mamaw started Weight Watchers. I was getting so tired of looking in the mirror only to realize that the two girdles I was wearing were not holding in all of what I have. There didn’t seem to be a contraption that would make me appear slim anymore. And, if there was such a device, it would either crack a rib

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or prevent me from breathing. So, the time seemed right for me to do what I needed to do to lose some weight. I’m not one of those people that preaches that thin is in. You’ll never hear me doing any fat shaming toward anyone. As a matter of fact, I have many loved ones that would be considered to be overweight but that has never mattered to me. And thin has not always been popular. If you look back at paintings and photos from a century ago, you’ll see that the subjects of those renderings are heavier gals. If a woman was heavy it was considered to be a sign of affluence and wealth. Being a skinny girl was evidence of not being able to afford to eat as much as she needed in order to have the beautiful curves and round features. Anyway... I didn’t mean to turn this into a history lesson. My real reason for wanting to try to lose some weight is, if I am honest, the fact that I just wasn’t feeling good lately. I would do a number and then go backstage and be so out


of breath that I had to sit down and drink something before I could even begin changing for my next number. I always preach to people that if you aren’t happy with something about yourself then you should stop whining about it and do something to make a positive change. So, I began my journey with Weight Watchers (right at the beginning of the holiday season). I was fortunate enough to get 14 other people at my place of work to join as well. When 15 or more sign up they will assign someone to come to your location to have the weekly meetings. That has made it very convenient for me. I was given a certain number of Smart Points per day and I must eat within that daily allotment. Each and every food and beverage has points and I must count everything I consume or I won’t get results. I can’t say enough about the phone app. This has made my experience so much easier than I expected. I take my phone to the grocery and I scan the barcode of foods with the WW app and it automatically

tells me how many Smart Points that food or drink is going to be per serving. This helps me to make better choices at the grocery store and not carry things into my house that I will be tempted by that aren’t healthy. The proof they say is in the pudding (I can have sugar free pudding and a cup is only 2 Smart Points). After being 2/3 of the way through this 12 week session, I can proudly announce that I have lost just over 25 pounds. I have about 20 more to go to be at my goal weight but I believe I can and will do this. I already feel better and people have started to notice. So, whether it is your weight or something else about yourself that you are not happy with, believe me when I say that YOU are the only one that can make the change. Trust me... it really is worth the effort. Until next month... Mamaw loves ya’ll.

Q

Send comments or suggestions to HelenahandbasketKY@gmail.com

HUMOR . OCTOBER 2016 // LinQ 5


IMPERIAL COURT OF KENTUCKY NEWS by H.M.I.M. Empress XXXV of the Imperial Court of Kentucky, Aurora Cummings

ADVOCACY

T

he New Year begins and we realize that we are half way through Reign 35! It has been such a rollercoaster of events and fundraising so far and it is just going to get better for the remainder of our Reign. Just to give you a little recap of the amazing things that happened in December: We had an amazing night of fundraising with AVOL Kids Christmas and we were able to take care of 62 children and give them a wonderful Christmas. We all got together at Soundbar and raised little money for the PCSO/ Lexington Pride Festival at A Very Fairy Christmas. We also got to crown a new Miss Mary Christmas. We had two very fierce competitors for the title this year and both did an absolutely amazing job. Serena Van Daren and Petty Poussey represented the Court proudly in the performances they gave but in the end there could only be one winner and it was an honor to crown Miss Petty Poussey as 2016’s Miss Mary Christmas. We know she is going to do us proud and

hope that she is ready to compete for this year’s Ultimate Entertainer. We would like to invite everyone to come out for our next pageant on February 12th at Crossings Lexington for Miss Gay Valentine. Then, on February 18th The Imperial Court of Kentucky

will be teaming up with the Scott County Humane Society for the Annual Wags and Drags fundraiser held at The Grand Reserve/Barrel House. This is an amazing event that helps us raise money to take care of the fur babies. There will be some

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amazing silent auction items, food, and of course entertainment supplied by the Imperial Court of Kentucky and some Special Guests from our Sisters in Cincinnati. Please make sure to follow us on Facebook for more details and ticket information about any events. Coming up on March 19th at Bogarts Lounge in the Campbell House at 6 p.m. will be our Annual Falsie Awards. This is a fabulous event where we get to honor so many of Lexington’s Finest. We always have such a great time at this event and would love to see as many of you there as possible. Reign 35 may be at its halfway point but we are nowhere close to being done. With the next 5 months coming up, we have them jammed packed full of great events and socials. We hope to see as many people as possible at these events and help us raise money for our local Charities. Remember, we are all one community working together to make it stronger.

Q


ADVOCACY . JANUARY 2017 // LinQ 7


FAIRNESS IN FRANKFORT? DON’T COUNT ON IT! by Josh Mers, Lexington Fairness Chairman

A

new year, a new fight emerges in Frankfort. Too often, we have a tendency to focus on national politics and the workings of the Federal Government. We find ourselves missing much more localized measures in our State Capitol. If you have fallen into this category and have been unable to follow along with the “new majority” in Frankfort, let’s begin with a quick update. Now, we could spend much warranted time discussing the assault on worker’s rights, reproductive rights, and even our public education system. All of these very important issues have been under attack by Kentucky’s Republican Leadership. At a cost of $70,000 per day, the General Assembly has been active, to say the least. They passed legislation that removes union membership requirements because, as they said, “Workers don’t have a choice whether their dues go to support political activity and candidates.” At the same time, they passed legislation that restricts union organizations from donating to political candidates. They passed legislation that requires a woman to undergo a trans-vaginal ultrasound before exercising her constitutionally protected right of choice. Moments later, they passed a bill that restricts the right of choice after twenty weeks with no provisions for rape, incest, or danger to the welfare of the mother. They did all of this in one week. The original intent of this article and the mission of organizations like Lexington Fairness and our partner Fairness Campaign is to focus

on fighting legislative attacks against the LGBTQ community. You might think there would be little time left in a short 30-day legislative session to focus on much else. You would be wrong. Offered up during that same week are three bills that need special attention. It is important to note that these bills were introduced by Democratic State Representative Rick Nelson and not the new Republican majority. House Bill 105 is a municipal preemption bill. It is designed to remove the ability of local governments to pass laws that would protect citizens on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Commonly known as Fairness Ordinances, these laws treat LGBT citizens as a protected class in a similar fashion to race or religion. Lexington’s own Fairness Ordinance was passed in 1999 and makes it illegal to fire someone from their employment, evict them from their home, or deny public service to someone because they are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. House Bill 105 would make that ordinance in Lexington and similar ordinances in Louisville, Morehead, Frankfort, Covington, Danville, Midway, and Vicco null and void. This bill would also stop the work in cities like Versailles, Berea, Georgetown, Bowling Green, and Owensboro to create local Fairness Ordinances. House Bill 106 can simply be called Kentucky’s version of a “bathroom bill”. You might have heard of that term after North Carolina’s economically disastrous HB2. Kentucky’s version, just like in N.C.,

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makes it mandatory for everyone to use the bathroom that corresponds to their biological sex listed on a birth certificate. House Bill 141 takes the bathroom legislation one step further and attempts to regulate bathroom and locker room usage inside of schools. Not only does this bill also mandate usage based upon sex listed on the birth certificate, it actually places a bounty upon any school or institution that does not comply with these requirements. So what can we do? We can continue to champion the conversation that fairness and equality are Kentucky values. Remember that Kentucky was the first Southern State to pass its own version of the Civil Rights Act. We can call, email, write, and visit our legislators telling those that would support this legislation why the legislation is bad. We can include our own personal stories while advocating for the defeat of these and similar bills. It is also important to do the same with legislators who are supportive of our cause even if just to say “thank you” for standing for us in Frankfort. We can push for the city of Lexington to take a more active role in defending the LGBTQ community with public statements and resolutions that call out these bills as nothing more than discrimination. This is accomplished by contacting the Mayor and members of the Urban County Council. We can make sure that our voices are heard throughout the Commonwealth. Q


ADVOCACY . NOVEMBER 2016 // LinQ 9


#IAINTYOSAFETYPIN by Carol Taylor-Shim, MSW

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he oddest thing happened to me today. Well, I guess it’s not really odd because it happens all the time. My reaction to it is what was different. I was asked, I’m sure with the best of intentions, to be part of an event that was centered on one singular aspect of my cornucopia of identities. I get these kinds of requests a lot because I’m looked at as some sort of unicorn. a Black Lesbian who has a story to tell. One who can inspire with a word, make you feel like you’re part of the solution while never really challenging you to do the self-work needed to really take in what she’s saying in the first place. To put into action the words that I say means you have to put in work. ON YOURSELF. But it’s easier to find your own melanated unicorn covered in intersectional glitter to distract from the work you

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have to do. On your own. So many Black women and women of color get invited to the party at the last minute as entertainment or some accoutrement. As if we are the validation you need. A walking dashiki and a set of box braids, if you will. For some people walking into the room with us it’s like having a real life safety pin. But here’s the gag kids, I ain’t yo safety pin. None of us are your safety pin. I know some of you are in your feelings reading this. How dare she? When that whole safety pin thing came out, I was looking for a sign. Something to help me hold on to my shaky sense of safety and belonging already on its last leg after one particular day in November. Anything that let me believe that the world hadn’t completely succumbed to the dark side. I even


wore one for a couple of days. And then I stopped. A safety pin wasn’t going to save anyone, myself included. It wasn’t about protecting someone else. It wasn’t about intervening in a JC Penney’s. (I refuse to believe a safety pin was going to motivate anyone in that line to do a thing.) It was an illusion. It was “Look at me! I’m one of the good ones!” It was an eraser of guilt. A symbol of unearned and undeserved absolution. These “social justice” sock hops we get asked to grace with our presence very often come with no offer of compensating anyone for their time and expertise. But people can come along and sprinkle “we’re in this together” pixie dust and they get paid. Excuse me? You mean you invited me to the dance and you ain’t even paying my way in? If you understand the intersectional nature of oppression you would understand the impact of financial oppression on people who already have to pay MORE for everything. We all have bills, but there is no equity in who

pays how much for the same thing. But you want people to come to your events, and do this with you and help you “find your way” or “unpack your” whatever. When you make the decision to do your own self-work and really shed yourself of these dangerous notions about others and yourself, then you’ve hit the Powerball of actively working at living a life in solidarity. No more cyberactivists. You have to understand how you show up. You must ignore the illusion that everything is equal so “why can’t they just…?” You cannot get in your feelings when you hear the word “no”. Running from discomfort is a privilege itself. One that we can’t ever get. We have agency over our lives, our bodies, our time, and our narratives. We get to decide how and when we show up. We get to expect everyone else to recognize and honor our worth. But thanks for the invitation, though. I’ll pass. Q Follow me on Twitter @ctshim71

CULTURE . NOVEMBER 2016 // LinQ 11


TransKY ADVOCATE by Tuesday G Meadows

CISSEXISM AND TRANSPHOBIA

I

“We’ll be singing when we’re winning/ I get knocked down but I get up again you’re never gonna keep me down/ I get knocked down but I get up again you’re never gonna keep me down...Don’t cry for me next door neighbor” Tubthumping, Chumbawamba

was having lunch with a friend recently when the wait-person walked up to our table and said, “What can I get you guys?” My friend must have seen me wince because he said, “Does her saying guys to us bother you?” I said, “Well, yes, it does, but I have much bigger fish to fry these days”. I did not elaborate on what I had on my mind. For me, and most transgender people, cissexism and transphobia are those bigger fish. I can rest assured that either cissexism and/or transphobia will occur almost daily for the rest of my life. The source can be friends, family, allies, complete strangers, or just about anyone that I come into contact with just about anywhere. I can be having a normal conversation at a party and suddenly my existence can come into question. I can be shopping in a grocery store and suddenly have someone block the aisle so that I don’t miss the dirty stare and the grunt that they give me. The list of these happenings goes on much too long for me to name all of the things that have happened just in the last year but there is one incident that does stand out. What is cissexism? Many cisgender people will act as if their gender is authentic where as our genders are somehow falsely manufactured. Because these people are secure in their genders and it is consistent with the sex they were assigned at birth, they assume our genders must be

fake or that we are somehow inferior to their genders because we came to question our sex assigned at birth. We often get terms such as mental illness or autism thrown at us as a slur to imply that something must be wrong with us. There are those of us who also suffer from mental illness or autism but it has nothing to do with us being transgender. Gender dysphoria is not a mental illness. It is a diagnosis that allows us to get the medical treatment we need. Whether it is on purpose or not, I think a lot of misgendering comes from a feeling of gender superiority by cisgender people. That is cissexism. Transphobia is an entirely different animal. Transphobia is where people hate transgender people for whatever reason. Much of the violence against us is because of this hate. These people who are out to do us harm because they have dehumanized us. They see hurting or even killing us as justified. In August, I was camping out at a campground in Flagstaff, Arizona with my family. After a day of hiking in the Grand Canyon, we were all ready to take showers. I took my oldest granddaughter who was 6 at the time to the community bathroom with me. As we went into the women’s restroom an older lady passed us on her way out. She glanced at me and I smiled and said nothing. My granddaughter and I went into a shower stall and locked the door. Shockingly, we next heard

12 LinQ // FEBRUARY 2017 . ADVOCACY

a man’s voice, screaming at the top of his lungs, “YOU’RE IN THE WRONG BATHROOM! YOU’RE NOT A WOMAN!” We could hear him walking toward our stall. “YOU NEED TO GET OUT NOW!” My granddaughter looked up at me and said, “Who is he talking to?” I whispered, “I think he means me.” She had a puzzled look on her face when she said, “But you are a girl.” I said, “I know.” I was so scared that I couldn’t say anything else and then he was standing right out in front of our stall door. I had no idea what to expect next but I heard a clicking sound that I took to be the sound of a gun. I did not open the door to see but instead wrapped myself around my granddaughter. To my surprise, my granddaughter shouted at him, “SHE’S A GIRL!” He then turned and ran out the door. That’s transphobia. So as you can see, I do have much bigger fish to fry than to get mad about a wait-person saying “guys” out of ignorance. I try to educate people and fight for equality for the transgender community everyday. Some days I do better than others but I always try not to hate the people who hate me. My mom always told me, “If you don’t like the way someone acts, why would you want to act like them?” You may write me at tmeadows828@gmail.com or follow me on twitter @trishgigi. Now Tuesday’s gone with the wind.

Q


FEATURE . NOVEMBER 2016 // LinQ 13


AROUND THE LIBRARY reviewed by Kam Wies

CULTURE

The History Boys

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written by Alan Bennett

he History Boys takes place in a boys’ secondary school in Sheffield, England in 1983. The film, based on Alan Bennett’s award-winning play, focuses on 8 boys who are hoping to gain entry into Oxford or Cambridge University. In a quippy and clever manner, the film plays to school boy archetypes with the rowdy playboy Dakin, overweight Timms, Muslim Akhtar, gay and pining Jew Posner, black Crowther, white jock Rudge, and wisecracking Lockwood. The lives of teachers and students intertwine in this talkative and scandalous end of term, coming of age film that has a sad and semi-hopeful ending. If you enjoy quirky British films, this is a must see. This DVD can be found at the PCSO library in theAV section under AV-FEAT HIST. Q

JANUARY 2017 #1 14 LinQ // NOVEMBER 2016. .FEATURE COMMUNITY

N

ew Song in the Bluegrass will be resuming rehearsals on February 2 to prepare for their spring concert, The Story of Love. The group will be singing a variety of fun music and is welcoming new members who would like to sing. If you have had experience singing with a choir in the past and would like the opportunity to sing and have lots of fun, consider joining New Song. New Song rehearses weekly from 7-9:30 p.m. at Woodland Christian Church. Although there is not a formal audition process, interested singers should be able to match pitch and make a commitment to attend weekly rehearsals. There is a cost of $20 for music purchase.

The spring concert is scheduled for Saturday, May 13. Q


ROGER WARE RUNS FOR MAYOR

D

by J.P. Johnson

eteriorated. That’s how the Lexington Leader described downtown Lexington in 1977 but Roger Ware called downtown, and a room in a small house on North Limestone, home. Not many people now know who Roger Ware was and when you mention him, those who do typically say, in a somewhat awed tone, “Wow! That’s a name I haven’t heard in such a long time.” In the 70s and 80s he was one of a handful of characters who had become a staple of downtown Lexington lore. Before Mayor Gray, Roger Ware was the first openly gay man to run for the office of mayor; though by his own account, winning the position was highly unlikely. Ware used the race as a means of shining a light on his neighbors: downtown’s “forgotten” people – the poor, the elderly, the homeless, the hippies, the sex workers, the queers. Ware was known for “holding court” in a coffee shop in the Greyhound station on North Limestone. There, those who knew him or knew of him would come seeking help and advice or simply to hear one of Ware’s stories. One such story developed soon after his short run for mayor (he announced his candidacy in March 1977; he left the race in May: “I decided to drop out because… I made the other candidates more

conscious of the social problems of the city.”) In June 1977, Nick Martin, another candidate for mayor, began circulating a petition for a gay rights ordinance for Fayette County. Anita Bryant had just helped to successfully repeal a similar ordinance in Dade County, Florida, and Martin was

trying to put gay rights in “its proper constitutional context and to discuss it in a rational and thoughtful way, as opposed to what happened recently in Miami.” Martin gave copies of the blank petition to Roger Ware, and in the process Ware was outed to the

rest of Lexington by the Lexington Herald: “Roger Ware, an unsuccessful mayoral candidate who is a homosexual, said yesterday Martin had given him petitions to circulate, but added that he doesn’t necessarily support the idea. “’The majority of the 2,000 homosexuals who live here feel women are discriminated against more than they are,’ Ware said.” By the end of June, Martin had given up on the petition, and Ware reported that he’d been beaten up twice in his front yard after his name and sexuality had been featured in the earlier news story. Lexington’s first flirtation with a gay mayor and gay rights was short-lived. Roger Ware died March 29, 1989 in a car accident. He was 48. Herald-Leader columnist Don Edwards wrote in Ware’s obituary, “[Ware] loved the streets – the gossipy bars, the bizarre characters – and he’d take time to talk to everybody.” “[Ware] could be a loyal friend or a devastating critic. He had been kicked out of some of the worst bars and invited to some of the best parties.” In remembering Ware, we remember an outrageous Lexington peopled by winos, prostitutes, pimps, drug addicts, alcoholics, hippies, and queens, a Lexington not paved over with parking lots and a queen who held court on North Lime. Q CULTURE . FEBRUARY 2017 // LinQ 15


by Reinette F. Jones, Bluegrass Black Pride Co-Chair

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FEBRUARY 2017 // OCTOBER COMMUNITY . . SEPTEMBER OUT & ABOUT . MAY 2016 OUTFEATURE & ABOUT . MARCH 2016 // LinQ LinQ 17 17

FEATURE

o, there is not with sodomy, and a published history sentenced to prison. of the experience of But, their lawyer Black LGBTQ* in challenged the verdict Kentucky. Consider it because the men were a small miracle if there not engaged in the act is a mention of the of sodomy, as defined history of Kentucly’s by the law that did Black LGBTQ* even not include oral sex. in an encyclopedia, With the second dissertation, thesis, trial, Poindexter and or a refereed journal Moore were freed Board Members of Bluegrass Black Pride, Inc article. There simply of all charges. The Charles E. Crutcher Illya Adams-Jones Mark Johnson Reinette F. Jones Treasurer Co-Chair Past Chair & Secretary C ommonwe a lt h’s Co-Chair is not much in print at this time, but that is Attorney disagreed not a reason to give up. And, if you want to know about the more with the men being freed, and filed an unsuccessful appeal. contemporary people, places, and events, then you have got to know Commonwealth v. Poindexter somebody who knows somebody who might know somebody who 2. During the 1930s, there were African American male will talk to you. shows held at the Woodland Park Auditorium in Lexington, KY. The invisibleness didn’t happen by accident. Race and The shows were called the Negro Review. There were actors and homophobia and fear are right there in the mix. The history of musicians, and the shows were billed as a form of entertainment. Black LGBTQ* folks in Kentucky has its own history of not being Sweet Evening Breeze was one of the performers, his birth name wanted or embraced beyond the confines of the people who were was James Herndon. [“Drag show” is a fairly recent term.] a part of the experience. So, here we are today where being a Black 3. In 1960, drag shows were held at what is now the Lyric person who is “funny” still has a high degree of being about “my Theatre and Cultural Center. There was an ordinance in Lexington, business” and you need to get some of your own. Everybody doesn’t KY that made drag illegal, except on Halloween. The ordinance need to know. Being out is like time, it’s relevant to the observer and prohibited men wearing women’s clothing and makeup. The not an absolute. performers, called female impersonators, were arrested under For those who are no longer with us, it is about respecting the the lewdness ordinance. Two performers who were arrested were elders and what they stood for during their lifetime. If the late Auntie “Princess de Carlo” aka William Campbell, Jr. and Verrano Willis. Uncle B. from The Ville was never out in the public eye, but took 4. Djuan Trent came out as queer in 2014. She was the 4th care of home and family like thousands of other Black folks, then is it African American woman to be crowned Miss Kentucky. She alright to out her now for the sake of documenting history? Would it is a graduate of Berea College where she majored in theater be an act of blaxploitation? Maybe. Maybe not. It’s a tough call. performance. Here is how Djuan defines herself on her website: Some of the earliest writings about Black LGBTQ* persons “A motivational speaker, inspirational writer, advocate for equality in Kentucky were due to them being forced out of the closet by the and empowerment, and former Miss Kentucky, Djuan Trent is in legal system. A few have since stepped out on their own. These public the business of inspiring and changing lives.” outings, whether involuntary or voluntary, are also appreciated Kentucky has a rich and diverse Black history which because they help build a foundation to secure a more permanent should be celebrated by us every month. However, as we celebrate place for African American LGBTQ* history in Kentucky and add Black History Month in February, we must also make sure that the space to the present. history of Black LGBTQ* persons is not swept under the rug. So, while we continue the debate, here are a few facts that For more information see the online exhibit in UKnowledge we all need to know about. titled A Pictorial History: African American Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, 1. C. H. Poindexter & Frank Moore successfully challenged Transgender, and Queer Persons in Kentucky at uknowledge.uky.edu/ the Kentucky sodomy law in 1909. In Caldwell County, KY, black_history_month_2015. Also, come join us at Bluegrass Black the men were witnessed having oral sex and it was reported to Pride, Inc., we meet the 1st Saturday of each month at 2:30 p.m. at the authorities. Poindexter and Moore were arrested, charged the Northside Branch Library.


RELUCTANT PRIDE?

COMMUNITY

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by Paul Brown, 2017 Lexington Pride Festival Chair

n Christmas Day, we learned the curse of 2016 had taken yet another cherished celebrity from us. This time the person was a gay icon: George Michael. I was shocked as he was only 53. I was saddened since I have clear memories of singing along with his ballads like One More Try and dancing wildly to his catchier tunes like Too Funky. Moreover, I felt a little demolished since the world had lost one of its openly gay superstars. Of course, the world had mourned the loss of gay icons before. Judy Garland comes to mind. Many in the queer community adored her, and several claim that mourning her loss led to the events at Stonewall, which set forth the modern LGBTQ equality movement. Many say that without those stark moments, we would not see the Pride Festivals, marriage equality, the queer characters on TV, etc. at least not to the extent that we do. So, how was George Michael different? How can he compare to that level of idolization? Because he belonged to the queer community. Judy Garland may have been beloved by many in the queer community, but she was not a member of the community. George Michael was, and there is great power in a person from within a marginalized community unabashedly claiming that community in a public light. But was George Michael proud? I read many articles and watched several news reports that provided remembrances and retrospectives of his life. Having

lived through his rise to stardom, I did not learn tons of new things. What did pique my interest is that various articles described him as a “reluctant� gay icon. As I thought back on the progression of his career, I remembered his public proclamations of being in a same-sex relationship, and I recalled his later videos that invoked queer imagery. Yet, the look backs at his coming out process pushed me to see that he was never ready to come out and share his personal life so intimately with the general public. He gained notoriety for being arrested for soliciting sex in a public restroom. He claimed it was entrapment, but for all intents and purposes he was forever outed. Had that moment never happened, he may never have revealed his orientation to his fans and the public, which would have been a shame for not allowing us to know his true self and for prohibiting us from seeing a rich, popular person leading a gay life. The truth is that George Michael struggled with balancing his sexuality with his stardom. Why? In 1998, public

18 LinQ // FEBRUARY 2017 . COMMUNITY

opinion was so opposed to LGBTQ that even a liberal Hollywood refused to embrace the queer community. That decade saw progress toward equality but nothing like what we have today. The fact is that his star power in the U.S. sank after his arrest and outing. The U.S. relished dragging a celebrity through the mud for trying to find an outlet for his sexuality, an action that heterosexuals did/do

photo source: https://thebaynet.s3.amazonaws.com/media/photos/gallery/2dda9c82-4aad-4103-ab42-f5a110d51636.jpg


openly daily. While he did come out, we cannot be certain that he was ever fully proud. In ways, the rest of his life was the textbook example of what often happens to LGBTQ people who have been taught profoundly that they are abnormal, less than, pedophiles, disease spreaders, unloved by God, etc. He fell into drugs and entered rehab. In interviews, he talked about what he was doing to combat depression and drug habits. He took poor care of himself and died long before he was finished sharing his musical genius with the world. If he was proud, he was reluctantly so. When we reflect upon George Michael’s life, we might feel sad to see anyone, but especially such a talented soul, suffering so much. We might feel ashamed that someone in such a position of privilege and power would be conflicted about living openly or that our culture would bash someone so incredibly for being out. However,

we should thank him and not just for the hours of entertainment he provided. He may have been flawed and reluctantly proud, but he was an out gay man who built his own fortune and used that vast wealth to promote many charities. He taught us that we could be out and that we could build a career and fortune and that we could find love even in an unforgiving, hetero-normative society. He provided us with a gay image at a time when there were so few. His death gave us another lesson. Even when we are forced out, even when we are reluctantly proud, even when we are publicly shamed, we must move past the reluctance and embrace the pride, for it is in that pride that we learn to love ourselves, that we learn to make positive selfcaring decisions, that we learn ways to survive and continue sharing our gifts long past the age of 53. I realize that George Michael was a flawed character and that many would argue that he was definitely

no role model, but I still thank him. Whether he wanted to or not, he provided me and many others with a symbol that showed gay could be sexy, rich, and loved. Gay could and can have everything. Because of him and others like him, despite their deficiencies, I know that I am a worthwhile human being. I know that I can be a positive force in this world with loved ones to make the journey with me. I know that I can stand with pride today, tomorrow, and every day. On a somewhat unrelated note, look for information coming up on Lots of Hearts and Body Parts, a fundraiser for the Lexington Pride Festival. Remember, visibility is important to showing Pride, so come out to the fundraisers. It does take money to put on the Festival, and that Festival is a prime opportunity for all of us to show up and show our pride.

Q


Sign from Lex Women’s March Photo by Megan Douthitt

Sign from Lex Women’s March Photo by Sarah Brown

Sign from Lex Women’s March Photo by Megan Douthitt

Sign from Lex Women’s March Photo by Sarah Brown

Lexington Fairness marches in the Women’s March in Lexington on January 21st Photo by Megan Douthitt

Walter Ravizee, Pablo Del Rey, and Rob Morgan attend the Women’s March in Downtown Lexington Photo by Megan Douthitt

OUT & ABOUT . FEBRUARY 2017 // LinQ 20

An estimated 6,000 - 10,000 people attended the Women’s March in Downtown Lexington Photo by Sarah Brown


Rainbow Bowling League

Lexington Fairness Executive Board for 2017 (L to R) Stephanie Oghia, Josh Mers, Sara Christensen, Joey Miniard

AVOL marches in the Freedom March for Lexington’s MLK Jr. Day celebration on January 16th


JANUARY 2017 #1 22 LinQ // NOVEMBER 2016. .FEATURE COMMUNITY


FEBRUARY

COMMUNITY & SOCIAL GROUPS

CALENDAR & DIRECTORY

Wednesday, February 1 7:00 p.m.-“Heart To Heart” LGBT Discussion Group (PCSO Center) Thursday, February 2 North American Bear Weekend : Feb 2-5 (Griffin Gate Marriott) 6:30 p.m.-PCSO Board Meeting (PCSO Center) 7:00 p.m. New Song In The Bluegrass Practice (Woodland Christian Church) Saturday, February 4 10:00 a.m.-Grief Support Group (Ahava Center) 2:30 p.m.-Bluegrass Black Pride, Inc. Meeting (Northside Branch Library) 7:30 p.m.-TransKentucky Meeting Sunday, February 5 1:00 p.m.-Company Q Meeting (PCSO Center) Wednesday, February 8 5:00 p.m.-Richmond’s Alphabet Soup Support Group (UU Fellowship Hall) 7:00 p.m.-“Heart To Heart” LGBT Discussion Group (PCSO Center) Thursday, February 9 7:00 p.m. New Song In The Bluegrass Practice (Woodland Christian Church) Saturday, February 11 9:00 p.m.-Kentucky Bourbon Bears Board Meeting (Crossings Lex) Sunday, February 12 6:00 p.m.-Imperial Court Meeting (PCSO Center) 7:30 p.m.-Lots of Hearts & Body Parts (Crossings Lex) Tuesday, February 14 6:30 p.m.-PFLAG Meeting (St. Michaels Episcopal Church)

9:00 p.m.-LGBT Sci-Fi/Horror Group (PCSO Center) Wednesday, February 15 Editorial & Ad Deadline for LinQ Magazine 8:30 a.m.-Statewide Fairness Rally in Frankfort (Kentucky State Capitol) 7:00 p.m.-“Heart To Heart” LGBT Discussion Group (PCSO Center) Thursday, February 16 6:30 p.m.-PCSO Board Work Session (PCSO Center) 7:00 p.m. New Song In The Bluegrass Practice (Woodland Christian Church) Friday, February 17 7:00 p.m.-Senior’s Bistro/ Potluck (PCSO Center) Saturday, February 18 2:00 p.m.-Drag Queen Story Hour (Wild Fig Books and Coffee) Wednesday, February 22 7:00 p.m.-“Heart To Heart” LGBT Discussion Group (PCSO Center) Thursday, February 23 6:30 p.m.-LexPrideFest Planning Meeting (PCSO Center) 7:00 p.m. New Song In The Bluegrass Practice (Woodland Christian Church) Saturday, February 25 10:00 a.m.-Librarian Work Session (PCSO Center) 6:00 p.m.-Winter Wizarding Waltz (Lyric Theatre) Sunday, February 26 3:00 p.m.-LGBT Sci-Fi/Horror Group (PCSO Center) 6:00 p.m.-ICK’s Board of Directors/Membership Meeting (PCSO Center)

For more details on events, view the full calendar at pcsoky.org at the bottom of the webpage

24-Hour Crisis Line

1-800-221-0446

24-Hour Teen Crisis Line

1-800-432-4510

AA/Alcoholic Teens

859-277-1877

Alcoholics Anonymous

859-225-1212

Arbor Youth Services

859-254-2501

Council for Peace and Justice

859-488-1448

Fairness of Louisville

502-893-0788

Gay-Straight Alliance, Teens

859-221-4396

“Heart to Heart” Discussion Group

859-253-3233

Imperial Court of Kentucky

859-619-7521

KY Survivors Area of Narcotics Anonymous

859-253-4673

Lexington Fair Housing Council

1-866-438-8617

Lexington Fairness

859-951-8565

Lexington Human Rights

859-252-4931

Lexington Pride Festival

859-253-3233

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

1-800-273-8255

PCSO Pride Center

859-253-3233

PFLAG Central Kentucky, Inc.

859-338-4393

PFLAG Louisville

502-223-1323

Rainbow Bowling League

270-404-0211

SisterSound

859-806-0243

Social Services, Lexington

211

TransParentLex

859-230-0409

TransKentucky

cassiemt@yahoo.com

TransLex

eellett@pcsoky.org

Transgender Youth Family Allies

1-888-462-8932

Trevor Lifeline 24/7

1-866-488-7386

United Way

859-313-5465

COLLEGE STUDENT GROUPS Berea College ACE

859-958-3633

BCTC Gay-Straight Alliance

859-246-6365

Centre College BGLA

859-238-5332

EKU Alphabet Center

859-622-5041

EKU Pride Alliance

859-622-1027

Morehead State University

606-783-2071

TUnity (Transy)

859-445-3822

UK LGBTQ* Resource Center

859-323-3312

RELIGIOUS GROUPS Ahava Center for Spiritual Living

859-373-8910

Bluegrass United Church of Christ

859-233-0208

Faith Lutheran Church

859-266-7621

First Presbyterian Church

859-252-1919

Hunter Presbyterian Church

859-277-5126

Lex Friends, Quakers

859-254-3319

Maxwell Street Presbyterian Church

859-255-1075

St. Martha’s Episcopal Church

859-271-7641

St. Michael's Episcopal Church

859-277-7511

Unitarian Universalist Church

859-223-1448

Woodland Christian Church

859-266-3416

HIV/STD TESTING, SERVICES, & INFO AIDS Volunteers of Lexington (AVOL)

859-225-3000

Bluegrass Care Clinic

859-323-5544

Health Department, Fayette County

859-288-2437

Health Department, Woodford County

859-873-4541

HIV/AIDS Legal Project

502-584-1254

Moveable Feast

859-252-2867

Northern KY Region

859-341-4264

UK Adolescent Medicine

859-323-5643

CALENDAR & DIRECTORY . FEBRUARY 2017 // LinQ 23



February 2017 LinQ