Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Dining Out for Life

Posted By on Wed, Apr 28, 2010 at 11:37 AM

Since 1991, restaurants in major cities across the country have been participating in Dining Out for Life, an annual fund-raiser for HIV/AIDS service organizations.

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On Thursday, April 29th, 32 local restaurants will offer a portion of their breakfast, lunch, or dinner sales to Friends for Life, the Mid-South's most comprehensive HIV/AIDS service organization.

Topping the list of participants is Bhan Thai, the only restaurant in the city offering 100 percent of lunch sales to Friends for Life.

The Inn at Hunt Phelan will donate 50 percent of dinner sales to the event, and Cafe Society is offering 35 percent of lunch and dinner service proceeds to fight HIV/AIDS.

Other particpating restaurants include Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen, Ciao Bella Italian Grill, Amerigo, Barksdale Cafe, Bari Ristorante, The Beauty Shop, Felicia Suzanne's, Interim, Mollie Fontaine Lounge, McEwen's on Monroe, Napa Cafe, Molly's La Casita, Noodle Doodle Do, R.P. Tracks, Restaurant Iris, South of Beale, The Tower Room, Central BBQ (both locations), Cafe Eclectic, Flight, Flying Fish, Lou's Pizza Pie, Neely's Bar-B-Que, Sharky's Gulf Grill, SkiMo's, Soul Fish Cafe (both locations), and Thai Bistro.

For a complete list of addresses and how much each restaurant will donate, click here. Some restaurants are only donating proceeds from one meal (i.e. only lunch or only dinner). That information is also available on the website.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Calling Cohen on Gay Rights

Posted By on Mon, Apr 26, 2010 at 12:02 PM

Steve Cohen
  • Steve Cohen

On Tuesday, April 27th, Congressman Steve Cohen will host a Telephone Town Hall meeting, basically a virtual town hall conducted via conference call.

Gay rights advocate Tommy Simmons is asking supporters of the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and those backing the repeal of the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) policy to call in and urge Cohen to take more action on issues.

Though Cohen is a co-sponsor of ENDA and legislation asking for the repeal of DADT, Simmons says "at this critical time, simply supporting the legislation is not enough. He must aggressively fight to secure passage."

Register here to join the conference call. For more information about the call-in campaign, check out this Facebook event.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Mr. Memphis Crowned in Broadway Beauty Pageant

Posted By on Fri, Apr 23, 2010 at 12:00 PM

Mr. Memphis Charlie Williams
  • "Mr. Memphis" Charlie Williams

Charlie Williams, the Broadway star of Memphis, was crowned winner of the Fourth Annual Broadway Beauty Pageant in New York City earlier this week according to BroadwayWorld.com.

Male stars from West Side Story, In the Heights, Wicked, and Fela also competed. The event benefited the Ali Forney Center, which provides short and long-term housing for homeless LGBT youth in New York City.

The center also offers free medical care, HIV testing, mental health services, showers, food, computer access, and job training and placement for gay teens in need. The Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center is launching a similar program this year.

Memphis is a Broadway show about Memphis D.J. Dewey Phillips, one of the first white disc jockeys to play "black music" in the 1950s.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Crowd Pays Respects to Transgender Victim

Posted By on Wed, Apr 21, 2010 at 9:16 AM

About 30 people, most holding candles in plastic cups, gathered yesterday evening outside the federal building to remember transgender violence victim Duanna Johnson. Johnson was beaten inside the Shelby County Jail lobby in early 2008 by former Memphis Police officer Bridges McRae after Johnson said she refused to answer to his taunts of "he/she" and "faggot."

A crowd remembers Duanna Johnson
  • A crowd remembers Duanna Johnson

McRae was on trial for violating Johnson's civil rights last week, but the 12-member jury couldn't reach a verdict. A mistrial was declared on Monday. Johnson never lived to see her own trial. She was found dead in a North Memphis street in November 2008, and her killer remains unknown.

"We need to speak up for her and demand justice," said Ellyhanna Hall at Tuesday's vigil. "I didn't know her personally, but what happened to her could have happened to any one of us."

Minister Elaine Blanchard led the crowd in the hymn, "There is More Love Somewhere," followed by an inspirational message from Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center director Will Batts.

"We're here to honor Duanna Johnson, but we're also here to honor all the people who aren't in the news who are ostracized because of who they love, who they are, and who they identify as," Batts told the crowd.

There weren't as many people in attendance as expected, but Batts reminded those present that "as we saw this week, one voice can make a difference." Batts was referring to the fact that the mistrial was declared because one of the 12 jurors couldn't agree on the verdict.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Vigil for Duanna Tonight

Posted By on Tue, Apr 20, 2010 at 10:19 AM

Duanna Johnson
  • Duanna Johnson

Following yesterday's announcement of a hung jury in the Bridges McRae case, the Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center's "Raise Your Voice" group is holding a vigil to honor McRae's transgender victim Duanna Johnson. The vigil begins at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday on the Federal Plaza downtown.

In February 2008, Johnson was beaten over the head with handcuffs by former Memphis Police officer McRae in the lobby of the Shelby County Jail. Johnson, who had been arrested on prostitution charges, said the violence began after she refused to answer to "he/she" and "faggot."

The 18-minute beating was caught on surveillance tape, but despite the visual evidence, a jury in the case was unable to reach a verdict yesterday. The judge has invoked the Allen Charge, which urges the jury to reconsider.

Johnson didn't live to see her own trial. She was found shot to death on a North Memphis street in November 2008.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Bridges McRae Mistrial

Posted By on Mon, Apr 19, 2010 at 3:30 PM

Duanna Johnson
  • Duanna Johnson

A mistrial has been declared in the case of a former Memphis Police officer charged with violating the civil rights of transgender woman Duanna Johnson.

The jury of five men and seven women in the Bridges McRae case began deliberating last Wednesday, but were unable to reach a verdict by Monday. Following the Allen Charge, the judge in the case is encouraging jurors to reconsider until they reach a unamimous verdict.

In February 2008, McRae and former officer James Swain were caught on video brutally beating Johnson in the lobby of the Shelby County Correction Center. The 18-minute video has no audio, but Johnson claimed McRae assaulted her after she refused to respond to homophobic slurs of "he/she" and "faggot." Read the Flyer's story about the beating here.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Constance McMillen to Be Honored at Local Prom

Posted By on Fri, Apr 16, 2010 at 3:40 PM

Constance McMillen
  • Constance McMillen

Eighteen-year-old Fulton, Mississippi High School student Constance McMillen made national headlines when the Itawamba County School District refused to allow her to bring her girlfriend to prom and wear a tuxedo. In fact, the school went so far as to cancel the whole dance over the controversy. The American Civil Liberties Union is now asking a federal court to rule that the school violated McMillen's First Amendment rights.

McMillen may not get a chance to experience her high school prom, but she'll be more than welcome to bring her girlfriend to the Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center's (MGLCC) "Prom for All" event on June 5th. McMillen will serve as the guest of honor at this formal dance intended for adults of any sexual orientation.

Guests must be at least 18 years of age. The prom will be held at the Doubletree Hotel downtown in the Grand Ballroom. Cost is $50 per person or $80 per couple. Tickets go on sale April 27th and may be purchased at the MGLCC (892 S. Cooper).

"We are very excited that Constance has agreed to join us," said Will Batts, executive director of the MGLCC. "Prom should be a time for joy, hope, friendship, and fun ... we want to make sure all people in the Memphis area are allowed to enjoy this important milestone in their lives without the fear of violence, isolation, or intimidation that Constance suffered. She is truly an inspiration."

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Drink Alcohol, Raise Money

Posted By on Tue, Apr 13, 2010 at 1:09 PM

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Every Tuesday night, Grace Restaurant in Cooper-Young donates 10 percent from all bar beverage purchases to the Outflix Film Festival, the city's only annual GLBT film fest.

This year's Outflix festival is set for September 10th through the 16th. It benefits the Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center.

As for Tuesday's regular event at Grace, you'll get the most booze for your bucks during happy hour from 4:30 to 7 p.m., but a portion of proceeds from drinks purchased from open to close benefit Outflix. Go here for a cocktail menu. Grace is located at 938 South Cooper.

Friday, April 9, 2010

MGLCC Expands Hours

Posted By on Fri, Apr 9, 2010 at 4:58 PM

The Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center expanded their weekday hours this past week. Though the center formerly opened at 6 p.m. throughout the week, it's now open from 2 to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday.

They've also begun closing to the general public on weekends to allow meeting time for confidential groups, such as the Queer as Youth group and Many Men, Many Voices, a group aimed at HIV education for African American men "on the down low."

For more information, go to MGLCC's website.

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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

"Don't Say Gay" Bill Killed Again

Posted By on Wed, Apr 7, 2010 at 1:54 PM

A photo-shopped picture of TN state representative Stacey Campfield
  • A photo-shopped picture of TN state representative Stacey Campfield

This morning, a state House subcommittee sent representative Stacey Campfield's (R-Knoxville) "Don't Say Gay" bill to the state Board of Education for further study, essentially killing it off for the legislative session.

That's the same method the K-12 education subcommittee used to kill Campfield's controversial bill last year. The Board of Education has already stated there's no need for the bill, so sending it there for study seems like a polite way of voting it down.

The bill would ban teachers from discussing homosexuality in elementary and public schools. More than 400 Tennessee Equality Project supporters contacted members of the subcommittee to voice opposition to the "Don't Say Gay" bill.

For more on the history of the bill, read my story from the Flyer archives.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Bridges McRae Trial Ongoing

Posted By on Mon, Apr 5, 2010 at 4:21 PM

The federal trial for Bridges McRae, the former Memphis Police officer charged with violating the civil rights of transgender woman Duanna Johnson, began this morning. The trial was originally scheduled for January, but it was postponed for reasons that are unclear.

Bridges McRae
  • Bridges McRae

In February 2008, McRae and officer James Swain were caught on video brutally beating Johnson in the lobby of the Shelby County Correction Center. The 18-minute video has no audio, but Johnson claimed McRae assaulted her after she refused to respond to homophobic slurs of "he/she" and "faggot." Read the Flyer's story about the beating here.

In an unrelated incident, Johnson was killed in North Memphis in November 2008.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Gay Plays!

Posted By on Fri, Apr 2, 2010 at 11:24 AM

Albin in La Cage aux Folles
  • Albin in La Cage aux Folles

Two local theater companies are putting on LGBT-themed plays this month. Theatre Memphis presents La Cage aux Folles, the campy, Tony Award-winning musical that inspired the film The Birdcage. And the Emerald Theatre Company is putting on The New Century by acclaimed playwright Paul Rudnick.

In La Cage aux Folles, Georges and his drag queen lover Albin have to meet their son's conservative, soon-to-be in-laws after he announces his engagement. The two very opposite couples meet and manage to escape a potentially disastrous conflict of ideas. The musical runs through April 11th at Theatre Memphis. Check out Flyer theater critic Chris Davis' one-sentence review here. For more information, go the Theatre Memphis website.

In Emerald Theatre Company's The New Century, a wealthy Jewish matron with three gay kids, a public access TV host, a scrapbooker, and a competitive cake decorator talk about the trials and triumphs they face in the LGBT community. The show runs through April 4th. For more information, go to Emerald Theatre Company's website.

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