Monday, November 30, 2009

Tuesday Is World AIDS Day

Posted By on Mon, Nov 30, 2009 at 5:03 PM


Planned Parenthood of the Greater Memphis Region will offer free HIV testing, counseling, and a three-on-three basketball tournament on World AIDS Day (Tuesday, December 1st).

The event will be held at the Lester Community Center at 317 Tillman from 2 to 5:30 p.m.

If the stress of being tested is too much to bear, keep in mind that everyone who gets tested at the event will be given a coupon for a free chair massage at LSI Medispa. The test used will provide results in less than 20 minutes.

Although Shelby County has less than 15 percent of the state's population, the county accounts for nearly 40 percent of the 14,000-plus cases statewide.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Have a Big Gay Thanksgiving!

Posted By on Wed, Nov 25, 2009 at 10:51 AM

Don't feel like sharing the dinner table with your homophobic folks? Or maybe you're just too far away to justify a plane or car trip home. Either way, you can give thanks with the local LGBT community at two events on Thanksgiving Day.


The Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center is hosting a Thanksgiving potluck at the center (892 S. Cooper) from noon to 4 p.m. Turkey will be provided, but attendees are encouraged to bring their favorite holiday dishes to share.

Not sure how to turn on an oven? Mary's Memphis has you covered. Backstreet's sister bar at 405. Cleveland will host their annual Thanksgiving buffet at noon. Food is provided free of charge.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Interim President Chosen for MGLCC Board

Posted By on Tue, Nov 24, 2009 at 3:29 PM

Elokin CaPece has been named to finish out the term of former Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center (MGLCC) board president Heidi Williams. CaPece, who was previously serving as vice-president of programs, will serve in the role of president until the term expires next July.

Elokin CaPece
  • Elokin CaPece

Williams' resignation was announced last Friday. In a letter sent out through MGLCC's email newsletter, Williams said that after having served four months in office, she was unable to continue fulfilling her duties due to time constraints.

Said Williams' letter: "My resignation should be viewed solely as a consequence of my own time constraints. I apologize to the board for my failure to fulfill the last eight months of my term. However, life happens, and when you do not take care of yourself, you are unable to be an effective leader. I feel that being an ineffective leader for MGLCC would be more detrimental to the organization than my resignation. MGLCC was doing great prior to my becoming president and they will continue to be an amazing community center."

Friday, November 20, 2009

Radical Gay Anarchist Group Denies Billboard Destruction

Posted By on Fri, Nov 20, 2009 at 11:31 AM

Earlier this week, blog posts on the Advocate's website and reported that radical gay anarchist group Bash Back had taken credit for the September vandalism of a Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center (MGLCC) billboard at Poplar and High downtown.

But a local representative from Bash Back Memphis told the Flyer that his group had nothing to do with the action. Their perceived involvement was likely implied from a blog post praising the vandalism on Bash Back News, the group's national website.

Bash Back
  • Bash Back

Bash Back, a group of self-proclaimed "radical transfolk, queers and allies," is critical of the mainstream LGBT movement, which it sees as trying to assimilate with heterosexual culture. Though it does not appear that the group is actually claiming responsibility for vandalism on its website, a Bash Back blogger had this to say praising the vandalism of the billboard featuring a gay Marine:

"First, sending gays to be military fodder is NOT pro-gay or conclusive whatsoever to gay liberation. State militarism only reinforces the dominant structures, and the racism/heterosexism they perpetuate, as well as reducing the number of gay people in the world (both those in Amerikkka and the countries Amerikkka is colonizing/conquering)."

The billboard was one of five National Coming Out Day advertisements paid for by private donations to the MGLCC. It featured gay local former Marine Tim Smith in uniform and read, "I'm gay and I protected your freedom." The billboard was ripped down about a week after it went up in mid-September.

The Bash Back post goes on to criticize MGLCC as "racist, anti-queer, and anti-trans" and it criticizes the center for spending $3,500 for a billboard that Bash Back claims promotes militarism in a poor African American neighborhood.

MGLCC director Will Batts says he's open to discussing the group's concerns if they are willing to sit down and talk. Says Batts: "We have an open door policy here for anybody that has issues with how we conduct business."

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Transgender Day of Remembrance

Posted By on Thu, Nov 19, 2009 at 2:54 PM

On November 13th in Puerto Rico, 19-year-old Jorge Steven Lopez was brutally murdered — decapitated, dismembered, and partially burnt — by a suspect claiming a trans-panic defense.

Jorge Steven Lopez
  • Jorge Steven Lopez

The accused killer 26-year-old Martinez Matos told a Puerto Rican newspaper that he saw Lopez wearing a blue dress and boots. Thinking Lopez was female, Matos allegedly let Lopez into his car. Upon learning that Lopez was biologically male, the suspect alleges that he “had a flashback to when he was raped in prison” and proceeded to attack Lopez.

Lopez is the most recent victim of trans-phobic violence. His death and untold numbers of others will be remembered at annual Transgender Day of Remembrance celebrations across the country this weekend.

In Memphis, a ceremony will be held on Friday, Nov. 20th at Neshoba Unitarian Universalist Church at 7350 Raleigh Lagrange Rd. at 6 p.m.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Preacher's Sons Screens at First Congo

Posted By on Wed, Nov 18, 2009 at 3:56 PM

In the documentary Preacher's Sons, a camera crew follows a gay male couple and their five adopted teens over the course of five years. Greg and Stillman, partners for over 25 years, took in the boys, effectively rescuing from the foster care system.

During the time of filming, liberal minister Greg's job leads his family on the road from their home in Los Angeles to America's conservative heartland. Middle America turns out to be a sometimes-hostile environment for the preacher's new family.


See what happens as the film screens at The Pilgrim Center at First Congregational Church on Friday, Nov. 20 at 7 p.m.

For more information on the film, check out the Preacher's Sons website.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Healthcare Planning Workshop Tonight

Posted By on Tue, Nov 17, 2009 at 1:16 PM


Whether you're concerned about being shut out of your sick partner's hospital room by his homophobic family or you're just interested in learning about living wills, you'll likely find an answer at tonight's Advanced Healthcare Planning Workshop at the Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center.

"Your Wishes, Your Choices" addresses healthcare planning concerns for LGBT folks, but straight people may benefit as well. The workshop will be held tonight (Tuesday, Nov. 17th) at 7 p.m. at 892 S. Cooper. For more information, call 901-326-8861.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Attempted Flag-Burner Has Military Ties

Posted By on Thu, Nov 12, 2009 at 3:09 PM

Ross Burton, the 23-year-old arrested early Wednesday morning in an attempt to burn the gay pride flag at the Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center (MGLCC), is a member of the Memphis-based 164th airlift wing of the Tennessee Air National Guard.

Ross Burton
  • Ross Burton

Burton was arrested after plainclothes Memphis police officers spotted him and another man attempting to set fire to the rope that holds the rainbow flag in front of the MGLCC.

Burton and the other suspect struggled with the police and even tried to disarm an officer. The police received minor cuts and bruises in the fight, and the suspects fled the scene. Burton was located about an hour later and charged with aggravated assault and vandalism over $500. The other man got away, but a police spokesperson says they now have another person in custody for questioning. No charges have been filed against that person at this time.

Though there is no known connection at press time, an MGLCC billboard depicting gay local former Marine Tim Smith was destroyed in September. The billboard, located at Poplar and High, read, "I'm gay and I protected your freedom."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Man Arrested for Attempting to Burn Gay Pride Flag

Posted By on Wed, Nov 11, 2009 at 11:46 AM

Memphis Police arrested 23-year-old Ross Burton early Wednesday morning after he attempted to burn the gay pride flag at the Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center (MGLCC) at 892 S. Cooper.

Partially burned flag pole rope
  • Thomas Simmons
  • Partially burned flag pole rope

Plainclothes officers observed Burton and another man — who fled the scene and remains at large — attempting to set fire to the rope that runs up the flag pole in front of the MGLCC. When police officers approached the men, an altercation ensued, and one suspect attempted to disarm an officer. Additional police were dispatched and some reportedly received lacerations and abrasions from the struggle. The suspects fled, but Burton was located and arrested.

Ross Burton
  • Ross Burton

Burton is being charged with aggravated assault and vandalism under $500.

This event marks the second act of vandalism against the MGLCC in two months. In September, an MGLCC National Coming Out Day billboard at Poplar and High was destroyed. No word on whether the two crimes were related.

Said MGLCC director Will Batts: "Public incidents such as this shed light on the larger issue of intolerance and hatred that our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens face every day. Once again, attempts to silence or frighten our community will not succeed, but will make us more determined to fight for equality. We appreciate the support of the community in this struggle."

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

AIDS Funding Workshop

Posted By on Tue, Nov 10, 2009 at 1:30 PM

Community service providers interested in helping people living with HIV and AIDS may be eligible to receive funds from the Memphis Ryan White Part A program. The program, in existence since 2007, awards over $5 million annually to organizations helping patients in Shelby, Fayette, Tipton, Desoto, Marshall, Tate, Tunica, and Crittenden counties.

Ryan White
  • Ryan White

Any group able to provide services in outpatient medical care, AIDS drug assistance, oral health, substance abuse treatment, home-delivered meals, or psychological support services should attend the Ryan White Part A pre-application workshop at United Way of the Mid-South (6775 Lenox Center Court, Suite 200) on Thursday, Nov. 12 at 9 a.m.

The program was named for the now-deceased Ryan White, a teenager who contracted the disease through a blood transfusion in 1984. White was kicked out of his high school after administrators learned he had AIDS.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Local Legislators and Students Discuss State Hate Crimes Law

Posted By on Fri, Nov 6, 2009 at 4:54 PM

In case you missed the story in this week's Memphis Flyer, here's a piece I wrote on a hate crimes panel discussion that took place on the University of Memphis campus last week.

Equality Project
by Bianca Phillips

Just one day after President Barack Obama signed the Matthew Shepard Act, expanding the federal hate crimes law to include sexual orientation and gender identity, local lawmakers and University of Memphis law students discussed efforts to enhance the hate crimes law in Tennessee.

In a panel discussion at the U of M's Cecil B. Humphreys Law School last Thursday, state representative Jeanne Richardson and state senator Beverly Marrero discussed a bill they're co-sponsoring that would add "gender identity and expression" to existing state law. Attorney Murray Wells, Tennessee Equality Project board member Darlene Fike, and hate crime victim Jack Robinson also were on the panel.

Jeanne Richardson
  • Jeanne Richardson

Though "sexual orientation" was added to the state hate crimes law in 2001, Richardson introduced a bill last February to enhance the law with protections for transgender people.

"One of my colleagues actually said to me, 'I don't like [expletive] queers,'" Richardson told the panel. "I've been a lifelong Midtowner and downtowner and I haven't heard those kinds of comments about gay people in years. But they're alive and well."

If the bill makes it out of the House, Marrero will have to convince her colleagues in the Senate to pass it as well.

"When I was teaching my kids right from wrong years ago, I never would have imagined that we'd still be dealing with this issue in 2009," Marrero said.

Even though the federal law encompasses transgender people, Wells said a state law would offer stronger protections.

"At the state level, we're far more equipped to deal with assaults. That's the sort of thing the Shelby County district attorney's office does, not the feds," Wells said.

Locally, Wells represented Duanna Johnson, a transgender woman who was beaten by former Memphis police officer Bridges McRae in the Shelby County Jail. McRae hit Johnson on the head with handcuffs after she refused to answer to "he/she" and "faggot."

McRae cannot be charged with a hate crime under state law yet, but he will face a judge on a federal civil rights violation on December 14th.

Richardson encouraged those who support adding transgender protections to state law to contact their representatives.

"Don't make it easy for people to do the wrong thing," Richardson said. "The more people who contact them about this issue, the more likely it is to pass."

Monday, November 2, 2009

Non-Discrimination Ordinance Postponed ... Again

Posted By on Mon, Nov 2, 2009 at 3:40 PM

In July, the Memphis City Council voted to postpone discussion of a citywide non-discrimination ordinance protecting LGBT city workers until after a new mayor was elected. The item was re-scheduled for November 3rd.

But the council won't hear the matter tomorrow. Mayor AC Wharton has opted to postpone non-discrimination legislation until his administration completes a review of the ordinance's impact. It should be noted that Wharton supported a Shelby County non-discrimination ordinance during his time as county mayor.

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