Studies Show State, Local Advances & Challenges
To Gay Civil Rights
Two studies released by People For the American Way (PFAW) and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) reveal that while much progress has been made during the 1990s towards government protection against anti-gay discrimination, hostility against lesbians and gay men has also increased, in large part due to orchestrated campaigns by radical religious organizations.
On July 8, PFAW released "Hostile Climate," a state-by-state report of anti-gay activity. It concludes a significant proportion of discrimination "results from planned activity by far-right groups claiming to act in the name of religion." PFAW President Carole Shields said, "On a daily basis, Religious Right leaders go on television and radio and hammer gay men and lesbians ... [saying] outrageous things in the name of God Almighty. It's offensive to my Baptist upbringing and to millions of Americans who think it's wrong to use faith as a tool to divide our society."
Still, civil rights gains are being made in the face of increased bigotry. "All Politics Is Local: An Analysis of Local Gay Rights Legislation," a study by University of Florida professors released through the NGLTF Policy Institute states anti-discrimination laws have advanced dramatically in the 1990s and those local laws make a profound impact in the lives of lesbians and gay men. [from GLAAD]
Beantown's Real World Has A Real Lesbian
The sixth season of MTV's hit show The Real World will spotlight a young Southern lesbian as part of the seven young adults who "start getting real," this time in Boston. According to the press release, "Twenty-years old and from Gulfport, Mississippi, Genesis...is very open about her sexuality; she knew from a very young age that she was gay. Up until she moved in with her new rousemates in Boston, she lived with her girlfriend Tammy, with whom she has been involved for two and a half years." The first two episodes of the new season began Wednesday, July 16. [from GLAAD]
Lesbian & Gay
The 19th National Lesbian & Gay Health Conference and 15th National AIDS/HIV Forum will be held in Atlanta from July 26 - 30 and 2,000 participants are expected to attend. The conference traditionally attracts leading physicians, nurses, AIDS service organization administrators and volunteers, health educators, active consumers and other mental and physical health professional who provide services to the gay and lesbian community.
The NLGHA has announced that Dr. Helene Gayle, Director of the National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Sandra Thurman, the newly appointed Director of the White House Office on National AIDS Policy, will speak at its annual conference.
"We are honored to have the participation of these two leaders," said Christopher Portelli, Executive Director of NLGHA. "We expect this year's conference to be our largest and most diverse to date."
Program highlights include an HIV/AIDS Medical Update, a meeting of the National Association of Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center, a Youth Institute, a workshop by "AIDs, Medicine & Miracles," and numerous programs for people of color.
The National Lesbian & Gay Health Association is a network of lesbian and gay community health centers and health educators, researchers, and service providers. NLGHA is committed to improving the quality of health and health care for all lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgendered.
Lambda Opens Southern Regional Office in Atlanta
Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund officially its new Southern Regional Office in Atlanta recently, creating an unprecedented southern presence for any national organization dedicated to the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, and people with HIV and AIDS.
Lambda Legal Director Beatrice Dohrn said, "As a civil rights force, Lambda is already at home in the South, with an extensive docket of southern cases. The Atlanta office brings us closer to the region's lesbian and gay community and will increase the impact of our work."
Lambda's cases in the southern region include Pulliam v. Smith, brought with the North Carolina Gay and Lesbian Attorneys on behalf of a North Carolina father, whose custody of his two children has been attacked solely because he is gay. In another case, Atlanta v. Morgan, Lambda is supporting the city's defense of its health benefits program for municipal workers' domestic partners.
Lambda Executive Director Kevin Cathcart said, "The Atlanta office marks historic growth for Lambda's work and for the overall lesbian and gay civil rights movement. We are proud to be the first national gay organization to establish a fully staffed base of operation in the South."
The Southern Regional Office will focus on communities in nine states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.
Cathcart noted, "We are all the more pleased to open our new southern office just as Lambda prepares to celebrate our 25th anniversary next year. Atlanta is a wonderful sign of the great progress ahead for lesbian and gay civil rights."
With the SRO, Lambda's legal force reaches a total of 14 attorneys in four offices, including its New York headquarters, Western Regional Office in Los Angeles, and Midwest Regional Office in Chicago. Lambda is the oldest and largest legal organization committed to achieving the full recognition of civil rights for lesbians, gay men, and people with HIV and AIDS.
Naked Magazine's Second Annual Caribbean Cruise
Serengeti Publishing Corporation, publishers of Naked Magazine, announces another in its charter cruises for gay men. While there have been nude cruises and there have been gay cruises, Naked Magazine now revisits the Caribbean with its Second Annual Naked Gay Caribbean Cruise. Passengers are required to wear clothes only in ports and during sight seeing off the ship.
The cruises are designed for gay male clients desiring the freedom of sailing without the restraints of modern dress. The ship, the SV Fantome, is a 282 foot, four masted stay-sail schooner built in 1927 for Aristotle Onassis (the scoop-he had decided to give the ship as a wedding gift to Princess Grace and Prince Rainier, but when he was not invited to the wedding, the ship was never delivered!). It recently underwent a $6 million renovation and now accommodates 124 passengers in 5 cabin categories. The cruise price includes port taxes, gratuities, food and unlimited liquor.
The itinerary includes the western Caribbean islands and barrier reef of Belize and Honduras. Departure is August 31, 1997, from Belize City, Belize. Prices begin at $1549.00, cruise only double, with single supplements of $750.00. Cabin shares are available without extra charge.
Picture it! You'll hop aboard, get naked and be ready for an unparalleled adventure. Informality rules! T-shirts and shorts to wear ashore in populated areas and at meals is all you'll have to pack. After stowing your gear in an air-conditioned cabin, all with modern amenities (and who said anything about roughing it!), you'll join your fellow Naked shipmates for a welcome mug of grog while setting sail for a week of relaxing quality fellowship. You'll stroll on pristine beaches and find unmatched snorkeling and scuba diving along the barrier reef.
You will be off to explore the Caribbean, aboard a tall ship ... in a tradition long forgotten.
For further information and a detailed brochure, call 800.962.5330 or contact Tande Reservations, 504.522.2910; 800.209.9408; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit their website: http://www.gayneworleans.com/tande/.
During NBC's extensive coverage, Tom Brokaw and Edna Buchanan made wrong-headed, and in Buchanan's instance, blatantly homophobic, comments during NBC Nightly News and The Today Show respectively. Brokaw, in opening an otherwise excellent story on Versace's murder, described Andrew Cunanan as a "homicidal homosexual." Edna Buchanan, a respected crime reporter and novelist had an interchange with Matt Lauer, host of The Today Show:
Matt Lauer: "The Mayor and police down there said yesterday that this could have happened anywhere. That Miami is a safe place. How do you feel about that?"
Edna Buchanan: "I think the Mayor and the Commission some years ago decided to appeal to the gay element--the gay community, with the tourism advertising. They [the governmental leaders] thought they [gay tourists] have more disposable income, they're well-behaved, and would make wonderful tourists. They deliberately sought out that market, and South Beach did in fact become a gay mecca. Now they're complaining that this happened here. Well, where else? Obviously he [Cunanan] was drawn here, that's his M.O. Obviously Mr. Versace's here. Now, they're unhappy about the whole thing. But they're the ones that sort of put this in motion."
Using "homicidal homosexual" links Cunanan's sexual orientation to his alleged murders and is offensive and contributes to steriotypes of may men as "sick." Brokaw, otherwise a friend to the lesbian and gay community, might have questioned this before going on air. Buchanan's assertion that gay tourism contributed to Versace's murder is on its face homophobic. Would she have felt as comfortable asserting that Asian tourism "set this in motion," since Cunanan is Filipino? Her statement also ignores the enormous financial and cultural contributions that the lesbian and gay community, among others, have made to South Beach, a community that Versace himself belonged to. Again, there is a willingness to blame the victim for being in the "wrong place," as well as implying that gays and lesbians are predisposed towards crime.
One of the difficulties that journalists have confronted in reporting this story may be their own discomfort around lesbian and gay issues, along with a need for a solid base of information. [from GLAAD]
While the majority of media
outlets ignored him, both the New York Times and the Miami Herald mentioned that Gianni Versace had a life partner (or companion). Both papers made mention of Antonio in their Wed., July 16 coverage of Versace's murder. "As witnesses arrived (at the crime scene)," the Herald reported, "Antonio D'Amico, Versace's longtime companion, was frantically running back and forth between the house and the sidewalk...D'Amico got into a car with police to look for the killer." The Times identified D'Amico as Versace's companion for 11 years as well as a designer for Versace Sport, a line of the fashion empire.
Often, when a gay man or lesbian is written about, especially when they pass away, the fact that they had a partner is completely ignored. This type of invisibility only lends itself to a lack of understanding that the community does have many long-term, committed relationships in it. By ignoring these unions, the media is ignoring the facts and does a disservice.