Archive for August, 2009

Campus Coverage of Last Week’s Family Foundation Protest

Posted in News & Views with tags , , , on August 31, 2009 by GayRVA

University of Richmond’s campus newspaper, the Collegian, posted a story about last week’s Family Foundation Protest.

Members of the Student Alliance for Sexual Diversity said that the foundation’s presence on campus had countered The Richmond Promise of an authentic culture of inclusivity, especially because of its stance against gay marriage. Thad Williamson, assistant professor of leadership studies, said he had become an ally of the GLBTQ community through his best friends.

“It’s important that the university community and the city and the state know that there is a gay and lesbian community here,” Williamson said. “They’re real people who have families, valued partnerships and children, and it’s a form of love just as wonderful as any other.”

Read the full article here.  The Family Foundation also made a post to their own blog regarding the event.  UofR’s queer community met last Monday to discuss a response to the organization’s presence on campus.


Buju Banton’s Shows Cancelled Across Nation, Scheduled to Play Richmond

Posted in Arts & Entertainment with tags , on August 31, 2009 by GayRVA

Buju BantonLast week, the LA Gay & Community Center sent out this press release announcing the cancellation of Jamaican reggae artist Buju Banton’s shows in several cities by Live Nation and AEG Live:

Through his music, Banton promotes a culture of violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, singing in his most notorious song “Boom, Bye Bye” that “faggots get up and run” when he comes, that “they have to die,” and that he will shoot them in the head or “burn them up bad.”

“In his home country of Jamaica, Banton and his fellow performers of ‘murder music,’ have helped to create and sustain a culture in which violence against LGBT people is not only tolerated, it’s sometimes celebrated,” said L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center Chief Executive Officer Lorri L. Jean. “The Center is an ardent supporter of free speech and artistic expression, but we cannot–and will not–tolerate speech in any form that promotes violence against LGBT people.”

Tickets are still available to some of these shows through Ticketmaster including a date scheduled for The National on September 26.

Beneath the Wig: A Q&A with Natasha Carrington

Posted in Drag with tags , on August 31, 2009 by ericrvaphotoguy

Natasha CarringtonWe wanted to check in with one of Richmond’s divas and find out more about the person beneath the fabulous wigs who swirls around the floor while performing on heels that would topple a runway model. So I did what any other modern journalist would do. I hit them up on Facebook.

And here is what I learned about Natasha Carrington.

Eric: Who is Natasha Carrington? Where did she come from and how did she get her name?

Natasha: Natasha started out as a way for me to let my hair down and have a good time. She has evolved from a club going diva in DC to a performing queen here in Richmond. The name has evolved several times, starting as Natasha Fatale, and then becoming Natasha Suede and finally I was adopted by Miss Beverly Carrington and assumed the family name to carry on the Carrington legacy. Personally I feel Natasha is a show queen, she strives to give the audience a little bit of everything; drama, comedy, a love affair of sorts.

Natasha Carrington

Eric: What diva inspires you the most and why?
Natasha: I’m a girl that loves Broadway, so show tunes and show DIVAS really hit home for me. But it’s really all about the performance; my favorite (cliché as it may be) is Liza Minnelli. I am however fond of most types of music and try to venture out when performing to not just one type of song or style of music.

Eric: You recently competed in Esta’s Drag Race, what did you learn from that experience about competitions?
Natasha: Well I learned mostly that not every competition and competitor is only out for themselves. While there are those that are, some times people are truly good and work together to just enjoy what they are doing and help each other.

Eric: You perform regularly with the Trailer Court and you have done a few shows with Variatease, what do you like about ensemble performances?
Natasha: Ensemble performing gives you a chance to work off of each other, the audience doesn’t always understand all of your inside jokes but it doesn’t make it any less funny. (Ham Biscuit!)Sometimes the real excitement in the show is backstage; the stuff the audience doesn’t get to see. It’s crazy back there when you’ve got 7-8 people all trying to get ready at once, you have to work together and sometimes you can’t help but laugh.

Eric: What are three things we don’t know about Natasha alter ego John Jessie?
Natasha: Well Natasha is John’s adventurous/creative outlet; I’m actually a home body at heart and love nothing more than curling up with a good book and a glass of wine. I also love spending my Saturday and Sunday’s people watching in Carytown. (It boggles my mind what some people wear out of the house!)

So I hope that sheds some light on some of the questions you ever had about the “Sex Kitten” of the Trailer Court.

Interview & Photos by Eric Russell

Update on Family Foundation at UofR

Posted in News & Views with tags , , , on August 25, 2009 by GayRVA

University of RichmondRegarding today’s Family Foundation retreat at UofR, we received an e-mail message from Jon Henry, president of the campus’s Student Alliance for Sexual Diversity.  Their organization along with other groups on campus held a protest this morning toward that Family Foundation with the first one starting at 7:15 a.m.  A second gathering was held at noon.

“Ever since those letters in the paper last year, we have been extremely active and motivated here on campus,” Henry says.

Fierce Urgency of Now

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , on August 24, 2009 by maymedonohue
Remember this guy?
Obama took out full page ads in LGBT publications during his campaign

Obama took out full page ads in LGBT publications during his campaign

He was presidential candidate Barack Obama. He used phrases like “fierce advocate” when describing his relationship to Gay and Lesbian rights and even wrote open letters to the LGBT community that included lines like,
I support the complete repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Federal law should not discriminate in any way against Gay and Lesbian couples, which is precisely what DOMA does. I have also called for us to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and have worked to improve the Uniting American Families Act so we can afford same-sex couples the same rights and obligations as married couples in our immigration system…
… If we want to repeal DOMA, repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and implement fully inclusive laws outlawing hate crimes and discrimination in the workplace, we need to bring the message of LGBT equality to skeptical audiences as well as friendly ones.

Obama Pride

Candidate Barack Obama was our guy, falling to the left of Clinton on LGBT equality and without question favorable to McCain on LGBT issues. He wanted our votes and our support and he got it. Polls showed that over 70% of the LGBT community voted for Obama. Candidate Obama was even kind enough to mention us in his acceptance speech, truly an historic moment for all Americans.

 Yes, candidate Barack Obama, he was our guy!
Allow me to introduce you to President Barack Obama, who in his time in office has only spoken the word ‘gay’ 13 times. President Obama wants to “change” Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policies unlike candidate Obama who pledged to “repeal” them. In an opinion piece in the most recent AdvocateDan Savage notes that over 265 Gays and Lesbians have been discharged during President Obama’s watch.   
President Obama is also responsible for the U.S. Department of Justice’s incredibly offensive and aggressive brief in support of DOMA that was released right in the middle of Gay Pride Month this summer. The Supreme Court case Smelt v the United States was the topic of the brief and it is important to note that the Justice Department releases briefs on all cases brought against the Federal Government. 
Arthur Smelt and Christopher Hammer

Arthur Smelt and Christopher Hammer

In Smelt v U.S.,the plaintiffs are a same-sex married couple seeking federal recognition of their California marriage, as well as the recognition of their marriage in other states. The case directly questions the constitutionality of DOMA which is precisely what the Obama administration defended in that brief. The blogoshpere lit up in an uproar after the brief was released on June 11th and the Obama administration tried to clarify their position that they believe DOMA is discriminatory. Now it seems clear that the brief was written by a Mormon attorney leftover from the Bush administration and was either not reviewed or not taken seriously by the higher ups in the department who signed off on the brief. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding the release of the brief, the language and tone of bigotry against the LGBT community was biting and a slap in the face from the very administration that fought so hard for our votes by making promises of “fierce advocacy.”

The June brief has been followed up by yet another brief on the caseby the Justice Department that was released last week. This time, the brief made clear that the Obama administration thinks DOMA is discriminatory and should be repealed, however it does not go so far as to say that the legislation is unconstitutional.
This is a discussion from CNN yesterday about this case and President Obama’s overall ability to live up to his campaign promises to the LGBT community.



Listen, I am sure President Obama has his hands full, but what happened to our “fierce advocate” who referenced Dr. King when he spoke of the “fierce urgency of now?” Was he just trying to relate to us by using our language? 
While Obama keeps himself busy trying to define the “public option” of his health care plan to the crazy town hall patrons carrying assault rifles and shouting Nazi references, gay youth are still being harassed in schools, hate crimes are happening against LGBT people around the country, gay and lesbian soldiers are being discharged from the armed forces, and in 29 states, including this one, LGBT people are being fired from their jobs simply because of who they are. These among other injustices happening daily seem to me like urgent and pressing matters.
September 2009 Issue of The Advocate

September 2009 Issue of The Advocate

But do the bloggers and activists have it all wrong when they point their finger at the President and demand action? 
This month’s cover story in the Advocate engages a discussion of Obama’s presidency and his unfulfilled promises, but in the piece, Michael Joseph Gross turns the focus of his criticism towards the LGBT movement as well as the President.  He points at the complete lack of radical grassroots action.
Since ACT UPwe have done nothing on a mass scale to exploit the potential of passive resistance and nonviolent civil disobedience, the most effective, proven techniques of social action refined in the last century. Aside from a few rogue players who’ve applied for marriage licenses and small bands of activists like Soulforce (who’ve been arrested for trespassing on Christian college campuses where they try to instigate conversations about homosexuality), we have not even tried. When gay soldiers get kicked out of the military, why don’t they refuse to leave? Why don’t the rest of us go to support them? Why haven’t we tried?
If we don’t pursue our civil rights and equality with a sense of do or die urgency, why should the President or Congress or ANYONE else? No civil rights movement has ever succeeded simply by electing politicians who claimed to be sympathetic to the cause. Think back to Bill Clinton’s presidency during which the Gay Rights movement was extremely well behaved and waited patiently for our social justice while Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and DOMA were both passed.
Has President Obama been a far less compelling champion for LGBT rights than Candidate Obama? Yes, clearly, and there is no excuse for his inaction. But that doesn’t let us off the hook in the writing of our own destiny. If we hold Obama to account for his promises with aggressive and courageous advocacy on our own behalf, if WE fight with a fierce urgency of now, we just might find that Congress and the White House have the courage to fight for us as well.
How do GayRVA.Com readers feel about taking one for the team? Are you willing to get locked up for your rights?
Mayme Donohue is a Richmond native and Master’s Candidate in Political Management at George Washington University. She’s a rockstar and you can catch more of her thoughts and musings on gay politics and lesbian gossip at Maymes.

Six Flags Gay Day This Friday

Posted in Arts & Entertainment with tags , , , , on August 24, 2009 by GayRVA

SixFlagsGayDayIf you’re planning a trip to the DC area this weekend, loop over to Six Flags on Friday.  Out In Events presents the Official 2009 LGBTI Six Flags Tour to benefit the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force Action Fund.  From 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., August 28, Six Flags America is closed to the public.  The event features the music of DJs Seth Gold and Justin Ryan.

The evening also includes a slew of live performances from Sylvia Tosun, Ultra Naté, Colton Ford, Daisy Spurs, and The DC Cowboys Dance Company.

Tickets purchased before Monday at noon are $30.  Afterwards, they go up to $45 in advance and $60 at the gate.  They can purchased online here.

There’s an official after party at Town Danceboutique.

Speaking of gay days, there’s one coming up at King’s Dominion on September 12.

Family Foundation at UofR Tuesday, Students Meet Monday to Respond

Posted in News & Views with tags , , , , , on August 23, 2009 by GayRVA

University of RichmondWe just got this in from an administrator at UofR.

The Family Foundation will be holding a retreat on the campus of the University of Richmond on Tuesday, August 25 at the Jepson Alumni Center.  The Queer community at Richmond is holding a meeting at 5:00pm on Monday, August 24th in Tyler Haynes Commons Room 331 at 5:00pm to discuss a response to the Family Foundation’s presence on campus.

The Family Foundation supports an agenda banning many civil rights to GLBT people and has been building their campaign in Central Virginia according to an e-mail sent last week from Equality Virginia’s CEO Jon Blair.

Dear Friend,

I’ve had it!  I’m sick and tired of seeing the torrent of misinformation coming from the handful of radical insiders in Richmond who are trying to hijack our Commonwealth out from under us.

In an email alert this past June, the Family Foundation declared its biggest outreach mobilization effort since the Marriage Amendment.  Their campaign, which is now going to great lengths to force an extremist majority onto the House of Delegates, is once again centered on blocking fair-minded legislators while placing anti-GLBT and ideologically radical representatives into office.

They’ve mobilized their army of oppressors across the state to continue spreading a sweeping agenda of intolerance, bias, and outright hate – face to face with Virginians – by misleading the public about issues of equality and freedom.

It’s up to us to make sure that their propaganda machine of misinformation doesn’t drown out the voice of fairness among Virginia’s voters this year. Will you help support our efforts to counter them?

It’s plainly stated in their website and brochures.  If left unchecked, the Family Foundation plans to bully their way to the ultimate goal of:

  • Banning Gay Straight Alliances in schools and other GLBT support groups.  It clearly doesn’t matter to the Family Foundation that GLBT teenagers are nearly 3 times more likely to commit suicide than other teenagers and that these support groups can mean the difference between life and death for kids who are struggling.

  • Eliminating any and all policies recognizing GLBT families in Virginia. They’ve long been waging war on the partner benefits that private companies are pleading to offer and continue to bully legislators into blocking the state from offering these benefits to state workers.  They’d clearly prefer that GLBT couples have no relationship recognition whatsoever, regularly attempting to block even routine rights like hospital visitation.

They’re using every tool in their arsenal to ensure a tyrannical future for all Virginians – twisting modern values to create outlandish misrepresentations of reality.  They’ve even gone so far as to claim they advocate on behalf of “diversity” in the family, when all they really mean is that they think having more than one gender in a marriage makes it diverse.

At the end of the day, their efforts really aren’t about maintaining a generally held consensus of what morality is – as they repeatedly like to claim.  It’s really about trying to radicalize the state and dictate their extreme view of ideological social order to the mainstream public by placing people far outside the mainstream into office.

It’s clear they’ve stepped up their efforts going into this fall and are elevating the stakes.  To counter them, we’re asking the fair-minded citizens of Virginia to respond.  Help us meet their increased efforts head to head and tell the public about the reality of equality and fairness!

Donate today to Equality Virginia’s work to educate Virginians about the need for a fair and inclusive Commonwealth.  Help us prevent the Family Foundation from distracting people from the truth.  And, when the Family Foundation inevitably responds to this email by saying that their handful of radical Richmond insiders actually represent the will of the over 7 million Virginians –– let them know what you think.

In Equality,

Jon Blair

Since concerns earlier in the year, the queer community at UofR has become more visible on campus.