Thursday, April 25, 2013

CNN's Don Lemon outs himself as a former Boy Scout

Posted By on Thu, Apr 25, 2013 at 11:13 AM

Boy Scout uniforms are so gay. Which is why the homophobia erupting over the supposed threat of gay scout leaders is pretty nonsensical to me.

Just look at the above footage from earlier this week and ask yourself who looks like the least qualified role model for young boys of America - Don Lemon, who comes out (again) as both a gay man and a former Boy Scout; the hetero dude and former Boy Scout who recalls how his lesbian mother was banned from participating in scouting with her son; or the fully grown Scout master vehemently expressing his opposition to gay scout leaders while wearing a kerchief around his neck? A flippin' kerchief.

I, too, was a Cub Scout for many years, until about the 5th grade when girls in my class started informing us that our uniforms made us less than desirable. I never learned how to tie a slip square knot or make fire from flint stone, but I did learn how to freehand a picture of the old Georgia state flag. When I took it home to show it off to my mother, who wasn't from Georgia, she swore up and down that it was the Confederate rebel flag. It took me weeks to convince her that my white scout master wasn't some covert racist who wanted to take us camping so he could lynch us with all that good rope he had lying around.

I'm not sure what that has to do with the Boy Scout's current proposal to continue banning gay scout leaders while allowing gay boys as scouts. But maybe there's a lesson about tolerance and compassion buried in there somewhere - my tolerance for my mom's irrational fears and the compassion I developed for a scout leader who took pride in things that seemingly posed a threat to my own family's values, perhaps. But naw, all that pales in comparison to the biggest thing I gained from my time in the Scouts: my impeccable fashion sense.

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Friday, March 22, 2013

GOP state lawmaker blocks resolution honoring LGBT marching band because... well, let's guess

Posted By on Fri, Mar 22, 2013 at 8:49 AM

Honorary resolutions under the Gold Dome are typically ceremonial procedures. These formal motions commend students for outstanding academic achievements, congratulate the elderly for still living, or create minor holidays that don't really matter. State lawmakers make these harmless recognitions to honor their local constituents.

So what happens when an openly gay state lawmaker tries to officially congratulate a LGBT ensemble on 20th anniversary and for performing at an international LGBT conference? It gets blocked.

State Rep. Matt Ramsey, R-Peachtree City, asked yesterday to delay a vote on a resolution sponsored by state Rep. Karla Drenner, D-Avondale Estates, that would recognize the Atlanta Freedom Marching Bands. (Drenner sent CL a copy of the resolution yesterday afternoon, which we've posted after the jump.)

Ramsey said that he asked for a decision to be delayed because some GOP caucus members had questions about the resolution. "Nothing more, nothing less," he told the AJC.

But given how infrequently lawmakers block resolutions, it's hard to imagine any other reason other than the fact that it commends an LGBT organization. After all, this is a politician who carried the state's anti-immigration legislation. You do the math.

Note that Ramsey sponsored a House resolution this session recognizing the McIntosh High School Lady Chiefs, a soccer team that plays in his district, after they won a state championship. Fellow lawmakers paid him the courtesy of not blocking the resolution.

CL reached out to Ramsey last night regarding the House resolution. If we hear any more details, we'll post an update.

Continue reading »

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Friday, January 25, 2013

New Morehouse College president talks HBCU money woes and LGBT issues

Posted By on Fri, Jan 25, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Morehouse College

Incoming Morehouse College President John Silvanus Wilson Jr. had a "frank" discussion with NPR's Michel Martin on "Tell Me More" about the need to re-evaluate the mission and effectiveness of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

The segment, "Do We Still Need HBCUs?", focused largely on the financial challenges facing HBCUs in recent years, particularly as they pertain to turning graduates into donors. According to Dr. Wilson, who is the former executive director of President Obama's White House Initiative on HBCUs, the problem isn't that HBCUs lack the wealthy alumni pool that keeps other colleges and universities afloat, it's that proud graduates of black schools tend to donate to their alma mater at a much lower rate than other alumni because they don't trust their institutions' money-management skills.

WILSON JR.: You're pretty much spot on. I mean the office that has come up more than any other office is the financial aid office. Most graduates say, oh boy, they angered my parents. They lost my money, or in some cases I couldn't get my transcript back and that kind of thing. So it's a lack of operational excellence, so I'm going to go down to Morehouse and I'm going to - and I've already announced, we are going to be known for our operational excellence.

That lack of "operational excellence" has led to the downfall of several HBCUs, including Atlanta's Morris Brown College, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last year, after a decade of decline resulting from lost accreditation and the conviction of former Morris Brown President Delores Cross (1998-2002) for embezzling government funds intended to cover student tuition.

While Morehouse hasn't faced anything nearly as daunting, the college was forced to cut spending and furlough staff members last fall based on a decline in enrollment, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. That announcement came on the heels of the Obama administration authorizing a $228 million grant to benefit struggling HBCUs.

Wilson, a Morehouse alum who begins his presidential tenure this month, has focused much of his academic career on collegiate finance research and fundraising at schools ranging from George Washington University to MIT. As Michel Martin suggests, Wilson is "part of a new trend of emphasis on administrative capability" among HBCU presidential hirings.

Another issue discussed during Wilson's NPR interview was the Morehouse ban on cross-dressing a couple of years ago that resulted in a 2010 Vibe magazine story titled "Mean Girls of Morehouse."

Continue reading »

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Country's largest gathering of LGBT advocates kicks off in Atlanta

Posted By on Thu, Jan 24, 2013 at 3:25 PM

Creating Change, the "premier annual organizing and skills-building event for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and their allies," has come to Atlanta for its 25th national conference.

The summit, which includes more than 350 workshops and training sessions on topics ranging from grassroots political organizing to transgender Muslims, has not visited Atlanta since 2000, Michael Shutt, a member of the conference's host committee and director of Emory University's Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Life, told the Georgia Voice.

"This is an opportunity to bring many communities together to learn, engage in skills building, and network," he said.

Speakers and participants include Rea Carey, executive director of the national Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and Jose Antonio Vargas, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. In addition, we noticed former Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Lead Ward Sears will participate in a panel called "Defending Our Courts Against Anti-LGBT Assaults: Strategies for Keeping State Courts Fair & Impartial." (Some large talks will be broadcast online.)

The five-day conference ends on Jan. 27.

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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Atlanta pastor drops out of Obama inauguration over anti-gay comments (Update)

Posted By on Thu, Jan 10, 2013 at 12:43 PM

The Rev. Louie Giglio
  • Wikimedia Commons/jesario
  • The Rev. Louie Giglio
That was quick.

The pastor of a Buckhead church and founder of the Passion Conferences that that have attracted thousands of young Christians has dropped out of President Barack Obama's inauguration after anti-gay comments he made came under scrutiny.

The Rev. Louie Giglio of Passion City Church near Lindbergh City Center was selected on Tuesday to deliver the benediction at the president's second inauguration. Last night, however, Think Progress, a liberal blog affiliated with the Center for American Progress Action Fund, pointed to a sermon Giglio delivered in the mid-1990s that "advocates for dangerous 'ex-gay' therapy for gay and lesbian people, references a biblical passage often interpreted to require gay people be executed, and impels Christians to 'firmly respond to the aggressive agenda' and prevent the 'homosexual lifestyle' from becoming accepted in society." One of the comments attributed to Giglio on the sermon reported by TP:

(2:40) We must not just sit quietly by and stick our heads in the sand and let whatever happens happen in our country. We've got to respond to the world that we live in. That is the mandate that comes to us as people of God. And this issue is coming more and more to the forefront every day.
(31:45) We must lovingly but firmly respond to the aggressive agenda of not all, but of many in the homosexual community. ... Underneath this issue is a very powerful and aggressive moment. That movement is not a benevolent movement, it is a movement to seize by any means necessary the feeling and the mood of the day, to the point where the homosexual lifestyle becomes accepted as a norm in our society and is given full standing as any other lifestyle, as it relates to family.

Think Progress reported last night that Giglio's spokesperson was unable to say whether the influential pastor still held those views. No word yet from Giglio on his Twitter feed or the church's Facebook page or website.

UPDATE, 2:50 p.m. In a blog post titled "Change of plans," Giglio writes:

Though I was invited by the President of the United States to pray at his upcoming inauguration, after conversations between our team and the White House I am no longer serving in that role. I sent the following statement to the White House today:

Read the rest after the jump.

Continue reading »

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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Politifact says mayor flip-flopped on gay marriage, mayor unleashes Internet army upon Politifact

Posted By on Wed, Jan 9, 2013 at 6:40 PM

Prepare for war, Politifact
Mayor Kasim Reed has marshaled an army of supporters and followers to push back on Twitter, Facebook, and probably the new and improved MySpace against today's AJC Politifact report giving him a "full flop" - that's Politifact-ese for "flip flopper" - on gay marriage.

For those just now tuning in: On the campaign trail, Reed caught hell from LGBT activists and some progressives for saying he supported civil unions but not gay marriage. Over the years, he said he was "wrestling with [his] beliefs" on the issue. In December, while signing an Atlanta City Council resolution expressing support for marriage equality, the mayor announced that his views had finally changed. He bodyslammed the anti-gay marriage devil sitting on his shoulder and... I can't come up with another wrestling metaphor. In short, Reed had seen the light.

Today, Politifact weighed in.

Before supporting same-sex marriage, Reed was a consistent supporter of civil unions despite intense pressure from LGBT voters. During the 2009 race, he dug in his heels, even though it meant losing the support of this crucial voting bloc.

PolitiFact defines a Full Flop as "a major reversal of position." Reed's change fits the bill.

Reed was none too pleased about the "ruling."

The mayor and his allies rallied Facebook supporters to tweet that:

If you're on twitter, please tweet this to your network:

On issue of #MarriageEquality: Mayor Reed DID NOT flip-flop. @KasimReed got it right! #LGBT #GaPol #AJCFalse

Many of them, including the Red Clay Democrats, Georgia Equality, and the Human Rights Campaign, responded.

And this gent in a bowtie:

Following that, the mayor's office released a very long press statement arguing that the mayor has a long history of supporting LGBT issues. It also summarized his efforts as mayor and a state lawmaker to advance LGBT issues, which included voting against legislation which led to the state's gay marriage ban, blocking a bill that would have prevented gay couples from adopting children, and supporting anti-discrimination measures

Project Q Atlanta rightly argues that "[l]abeling him as a flip-flopper on gay marriage doesn't pick up the nuances of the issue." And Ryan Watkins and Dyana Bagby at the Georgia Voice, whose editor Laura Douglas-Brown was quoted in the Politifact piece, have some good advice for the mayor: "embrace the flop."

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announces support for marriage equality

Posted By on Tue, Dec 11, 2012 at 3:21 PM

For years, mayor had said views on issue were evolving
Before becoming mayor in 2009, Kasim Reed faced criticism from LGBT activists and progressive supporters for not supporting gay marriage. He supported civil unions, he said, but was "wrestling with his beliefs" when it came to same-sex marriage. When President Barack Obama announced his support for the issue, the heat on the mayor only became more intense. Some even speculated that Reed's views played a role in the mayor not being selected to speak at this year's Democratic National Convention.

The mayor's views, apparently, continued to evolve. And today, after signing a resolution by Atlanta City Councilman Alex Wan, the legislative body's only openly gay member, in favor of gay marriage, Reed said in a long statement, just released by his office:

"Today marks an important day as I announce my support for marriage equality... It is well known that I have gone through a good bit of reflection on this issue, but listening to the stories of so many people that I know and care about has strengthened my belief that marriage is a fundamental right for everyone. Loving couples, regardless of their sexual orientation, should have the right to marry whomever they want. By signing this resolution, I pledge my support to marriage equality for same-sex couples, consistent with equal protection under the law provided under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution." [...]

"I believe in tolerance and acceptance, regardless of a person's race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity. That creed has been a guiding force for me throughout my life, as reflected by my actions and votes as a lifelong Democrat and elected official in the state of Georgia for more than 14 years."

The statement includes Reed's record on LGBT legislation and words of support from Lee Schreter, a longtime friend of the mayor's and an attorney who helped with the Atlanta Eagle raid settlement, the Rev. Timothy McDonald of First Iconium Baptist Church, and the Rev. Harry Knox of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. The mayor also adds he'll join other mayors who have signed the 'Mayors for Freedom to Marry' pledge, a "a broad-based and nonpartisan group of mayors who believe that all people should be able to share in the love and commitment of marriage."

Now, keep in mind that there's not much the mayor can do regarding marriage equality. Georgia voters in 2004 voted in favor of a referendum banning marriage between anyone other than a man and a woman. He can use the bully pulpit to help educate people about the issue, however.

Regardless, the announcement's sure to make many supporters happy, as it remained a sticking point between Reed and Atlanta's LGBT community and many liberals.

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

City Council OKs resolution supporting gay marriage

Posted By on Tue, Dec 4, 2012 at 10:31 AM

Atlanta City Councilman Alex Wan
The Atlanta City Council on Monday voted 11-2 to pass a resolution endorsing marriage equality.

Atlanta City Councilman Alex Wan, who represents gay friendly Midtown, Virginia-Highland, and Morningside, introduced the legislation after several weeks of consideration and conversations with his colleagues about the resolution.

"For some folks it was a slam dunk, no-brainer, 'what can I do to help?" Wan, Council's only openly gay member, told CL last night. "Others had questions, understandably, but knew why this was important to me... It's been something I've been wanting to do for a while and it was just a matter of finding the right time and having the conversations I wanted to have with my colleagues."

Since the city has no say so over marriage, the resolution was largely a symbolic gesture that lacks teeth. But it isn't the first time Council's taken a stand on LGBT issues outside the legislative body's purview. In 2004, the Atlanta City Council voted 13-1 to state its opposition to the Georgia constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. And in 2006, Council voted 11-2 to support the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

Councilmembers Howard Shook, who represents parts of Buckhead, and C.T. Martin, who represents parts of west Atlanta, voted against the resolution.

"I don't want to talk about it because I have a choice," Martin told CL when asked why he voted "no." "And that's what it's about - choices. And I had a choice of voting 'no.'"

We sent Shook an email last night and will update if we hear back. UPDATE, 3:04 p.m. Shook says in an email:

While I understand there are many heartfelt opinions regarding this issue, my duty is to represent 7th District voters who, like it or not, overwhelmingly opposed amending Georgia's constitution so as to allow gay marriage.

Mayor Kasim Reed has faced criticism from LGBT activists and progressives for not supporting gay marriage. Wan says the resolution wasn't directed at Reed and that he spoke with the mayor before introducing the resolution. Wan says he respects the mayor's position.

"At the end of the day, the mayor will do what he wants to do," Wan said. "But he understood my position and that I wanted to take a position on this."

Lest you think Wan, who's seeking another term on Council, introduced the resolution for publicity purposes, he says that's not the case. He told the Georgia Voice last night:

"[Publicity] was not the motivation. This is just the city council taking a position because it was the right thing to do. It was more important to me to reach this kind of consensus with the council without outside pressure," he said.

"If the council were to feel pressured, it would be very different than had they arrived at this support on their own. This was council acting independently - because it was the right thing to do," he said.

Text of the resolution follows after the jump.

Continue reading »

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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Catching Up with Gayby producer Anne Hubbell

Posted By on Thu, Oct 4, 2012 at 7:43 AM

Opening Night of Out On Film
  • Opening Night of Out On Film

Anne Hubbell is a force of nature in the independent film community, with deep roots that reach all the way back to Atlanta, where she served as the executive director of Independent Media Artists of Georgia, Etc. (IMAGE), the non-profit film and media arts group now called Atlanta Film Festival 365.

A few disclaimers and disclosures off the bat:

1) I worked as the Programming Coordinator at IMAGE for Anne when she was ED in 1997;
2) I've known her for over 15 years, and consider her a friend and mentor;
3) In more recent times, I returned to Atlanta to serve a term as ED of IMAGE myself—during my tenure, we launched the ATL365 re-brand, and also spun-off Out on Film

A fixture on the festival circuit with connections everywhere in the industry, due (in part) to her professional role as Kodak's East Coast Regional Account Manager for Studio and Independent Feature Films, Anne shares passion for the medium that is unequaled.

She has also produced and developed a number of films, including the women's wrestling documentary Lipstick & Dynamite, and the short Thanksgiving.

She is also the producer of Gayby, written and directed by Jonathan Lisecki, her first feature length narrative. The film debuted to rave reviews at SXSW in March, and it is the opening night film for the 25th Edition of Out On Film, which kicks-off tonight at 7:30 pm at the Landmark Midtown Art Cinema

1. Discuss the role you played in the origin of Out On Film What's it like to come back to OOF all these years later with the opening night film?

When I took the job as Executive Director at IMAGE [ed note: now dba as Atlanta Film Festival 365], the organization was producing the "Atlanta Lesbian, Gay, Bi, and Transexual Film and Video Festival" with SAME, a local alternative arts and theater company. It was a great community event, held mainly at our small theater space at the TULA Arts Center. After my first year, it was clear there was a lot of room for growth. It was the mid 90s and with the breakout success of Tarantino and Soderbergh, independent filmmaking was becoming like rock stardom. With that increased interest in alternative media from artists and audiences, we saw an opportunity to raise the profile of the festival. We ultimately shortened it from nine days to five, tightened up the schedule by playing films concurrently, diversified the programming, and added more late night events. Finally, the lengthy title was changed to OUT ON FILM! (I think we might have even included the exclamation point in the official title.) It was a great group of people during those years - playwright Rebecca Ranson, publisher Jack Pelham, IMAGE programmers Gabe Wardell and Genevieve McGillicuddy, and many others, really laid the groundwork for the fabulous event OOF is today. We tried to make the festival important, but fun. At one point we held the event at the Phipps Plaza Theaters where a midnight "smell-o-vision" screening of John Waters' Polyester (drag queens passed out pizza and roses during the movie!) quickly sold out. There were hundreds of people in a line that extended way into the food court. It was a blast and I felt like OOF! was really a success.

I feel so proud to have played a part in the incredible event that OOF has become over the years. It is amazing to have the first narrative feature I produced open the festival. It is a really special way to come back.

2. With gay issues squarely entrenched in main stream media—characters on shows like "Modern Family," "Glee" and "The New Normal," out gays and gay icons dominating other pop-culture phenomena like music (Lady Gaga, Adam Lambert), online gossip (TMZ, Perez), news (Anderson Cooper, Don Lemon), and acting (Zach Quinto, Alan Cumming, Jane Lynch, Neil Patrick Harris), and with Gay Marriage making its way through legal system and "Don't Ask/Don't Tell" repealed, why are LGBT film festivals like OUT ON FILM still necessary?

Continue reading »

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Mayor still 'wrestling with beliefs' on gay marriage

Posted By on Thu, May 10, 2012 at 6:15 PM

Mayor Kasim Reed
The AJC's Jim Galloway passes along the following statement Mayor Kasim Reed, who's earned criticism from LGBT advocates since the 2009 mayoral campaign for not supporting gay marriage (he supports civil unions). The mayor says that, unlike President Barack Obama, he's 'still wrestling with my own personal beliefs' on the issue:

“I respect President Obama’s decision to stand in support of marriage equality. I have fought hard for the rights of gays and lesbians my entire political career, from protecting adoption rights for gay and lesbian families, to voting against Georgia’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage as a state senator, to serving as the state house sponsor for the only hate crimes bill ever passed in the state of Georgia.

“While I am still wrestling with my own personal beliefs on the issue of marriage, I deeply appreciate the contributions gays and lesbians make to our city every single day and I remain committed to Atlanta’s vibrant and diverse LGBT community.”

The Georgia Voice reports that local LGBT advocate and former Atlanta Public Schools and City Council candidate Charlie Stadtlander has started a Facebook group telling the mayor it's time to 'evolve' on the issue and change his views.

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