More gay journo gossip…

Following up on my most recent post, here’s some more good gay media gossip.

PlanetOut, which has been sitting at the auction house for a while now, just lost a portion of its book distribution companies. A Queerty.com post and comment gives rise to the rumors that Regent Releasing (owner of here! Network) and Window Media (Southern Voice, Washington Blade, David Atlanta, etc.) are gearing up to place bids on The Advocate… possibly OUT as well.

All unfounded, of course. Don’t think I have any inside info. Sweet little innocent Matt — what else would you be expecting?

UPDATE: Okay… something weird happened. Somehow I erased that “most recent post” I talked about and did some overwriting with the one you’re looking at now. That “most recent post” reproduced here.

From Queerty.com:

This week, HX Media Creative Director Matt Farris, who just returned to the company last year after a seven year absence, was laid off.

In addition, The New York Blade will be appearing only every other week, so editor in chief Trenton Straube was reduced to half time. The head bookkeeper’s hours were also reduced and ad salespeople were recently told that there base salaries were being taken away, leaving them to exist on commissions.

Spin-off rag HX Phildelphia [sic] will be shuttered shortly. Rumors also have that some staff
members are not being paid consistently.

So… looks like Q-Notes will have some company on the East Coast bi-weekly scene — except, we’ve been bi-weekly for years and, although everyone is feeling the financial pinch, we aren’t scaling back or shutting things down. In fact, we’ll be expanding soon — updating that horrid late-1990s era website. 🙂


Gambling, taxes and sin

NOTE: Please see addendum at bottom of this post.

The N.C. Education Lottery, and the way in which it was established by the State of North Carolina, will be the subject of a state Supreme Court case.

According to the Charlotte Observer, a N.C. Appellate Court ruled March 18 that the lottery was legally instituted. The debate stems from how the lottery should have been established, whether the lottery is considered a “tax” from the state and if the original Lottery Act was a “revenue bill.”

From the Christian Action League (I’ll get to more of what they say in a minute):

“We are disappointed that the Appeals Court didn’t choose to hold the Legislature accountable for following the Constitution,” said Tami Fitzgerald, attorney for the North Carolina Family Policy Council, one of a number of plaintiffs in the case first filed in December 2005.


The San Juan Cellular test (San Juan Cellular Telephone Co. v. Public Service Commission of Puerto Rico), the prevailing test to determine whether an assessment is a tax, calls for the consideration of three primary factors: (1) the entity that imposes the assessment; (2) the parties upon whom the assessment is imposed; and (3) whether the assessment is expended for general public purposes, or used for the regulation or benefit of the parties upon whom it is imposed.

In her dissenting opinion, Judge Ann Marie Calabria applied the test to the 35 percent of the net revenues allocated to the state by the Lottery Act. She noted that the General Assembly imposed the assessment; the assessment is imposed on every purchaser of a lottery ticket, thus a broad class of parties; and that the purpose of the assessment is to raise revenue for education, a “general public purpose” — all factors that make the Lottery Act a tax.

She also said the Lottery Act qualifies as a revenue bill because by selling lottery tickets, the State is “contracting with purchasers for the opportunity to have a claim for State revenues,” without setting aside an “exclusive revenue stream from which they are to be paid.” In essence, a lottery winner could lay claim to state funds outside the lottery monies, since the money is part of the state’s general fund. These factors, Calabria points out, show that the lottery is raising revenue on the credit of the state and that the Lottery Act pledges the faith of the state for payment of debt.

If the Lottery Act was indeed a “revenue bill,” the way in which it was passed would have required different legislative processes and requirements.

But I suspect that the real reason for the N.C. Family Policy Council and Christian Action League’s objections to the lottery have nothing to do with taxes or revenue. In fact, their objections might just be one more attempt to impose their stringent, fundamentalist beliefs on all citizens of the state — similar to their longings for our pretty much dead-in-the-water marriage amendment.

Again, from the Christian Action League, written by Executive Director Mark Creech (a very polite gentleman, by the way):

It produces an incredible challenge for Christian activists like me, who are determined to do what we can to keep gambling interest from succeeding in our state.


Nevertheless, whether it’s buying a lottery ticket or playing the numbers at a roulette table, every time a Christian gambles, a grievous sin is committed. “Surely not,” someone responds, “I thought gambling was only a sin if you let it develop into a problem.” Hardly! To say gambling is a sin only if it develops into a compulsion is like saying watching pornography is wrong only if it results in an addiction. Gambling is always sinful because it emanates from a spiritual motive God summarily rejects.

There we have it folks. No gambling in North Carolina because the Christian Action League says so. That is really all the reason you need.

But, on a serious note, I am going to read more about the issue of gambling. I know I was taught it was a sin when I was growing up, but I want to know the real reasons why. At the conservative, independent Baptist church of my youth I was told gambling was a sin because the Roman soldiers “cast lots” at Jesus’ feet, while he was on the cross. I doubt that is the real reason.

The Christian Action League breaks the issue down, for their purposes at least, but I’ll take some time to look further. For me, simply saying “That is sin,” and providing no reason why, really isn’t good enough. Even God Himself gave people the reasons why many of his rules were set into place. Some good examples (the “reasons why” in bold):

(Exodus 20:4) You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

(5) You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me.

(8) Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.

(9) For six days you shall labour and do all your work.

(10) But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns.

(11) For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and consecrated it.

(12) Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

God really is an intellectual, you know. He isn’t just some parent who always says, “Because I told you so.” Sometimes He gives us the reasons. Other times, I believe, He calls us to understand Him further, and to seek the truth ourselves.

So… I’m going to ask God why. Not in a disrespectful way, but in a genuine, truth-seeking way. I want to understand God, and exactly the reasons why gambling is sin. And, if it is sin, I still believe the state has no business thinking about that. Good Christians – myself included – can abstain from sin. We don’t need the state to do it for us. Be of the world, not in it, remember?

ADDENDUM: From the Rev. Mark Creech, president of the Christian Action League of North Carolina: “I thought that the last piece you did about the Christian Action League’s opposition to the lottery was unfair. If you think we should be fair, then that same standard should also apply to you. You noted in your article that I had said the reason people shouldn’t gamble is because the Christian Action League said so and factiously you added that should be reason enough. Nonsense! The article stated clearly the reason people shouldn’t gamble was because it emanated and fostered a spirit of covetousness, which is a violation of the tenth commandment. I don’t think the article could have been any clearer.”


Weekend to do: Gay author tours Carolinas

richmerrittGay author Rich Merritt (“Code of Conduct”, “Secrets of a Gay Marine Porn Star”) will take a “homecoming” tour through North and South Carolina this weekend.

His visit kicks off near Greenville, S.C. – his hometown – with a private noon luncheon function with members of Clemson’s Gay-Straight Alliance.

Rich Merritt in the Carolinas, March 28-30:
Friday, March 28, 6 p.m.
The Open Book
110 South Pleasantburg Drive
Greenville, SC 29607

Saturday, March 29, 3 p.m.
White Rabbit Bookstore
309 West Martin Street
Raleigh, NC 27601

Sunday, March 30, 3 p.m.
White Rabbit Bookstore
920 Central Ave.
Charlotte, NC 28204

My Editor’s Note from the March 22 issue of Q-Notes, the leading LGBT news source of the Carolinas.

A plea for Scouting’s true ideals
by Matt Comer . Editor, Q-Notes

scoutlogoIn my last Editor’s Note (“Perry, Huckabee and the piss-me-off meter,” 3/8/2008), I wrote briefly about Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s new book, “On My Honor: Why the American Values of the Boy Scouts Are Worth Fighting For,” in which he outlines his argument for why the Scouting organization should be able to continue their discrimination against gay members and leaders.

I noted that Gov. Perry and other defenders of the Boy Scouts of America’s (BSA) anti-gay membership and leadership policies often downplay the Scouts’ discrimination against gay youth members. Sometimes, they take their obfuscation a step further.

In an interview with New York Times reporter Deborah Solomon, Gov. Perry said, “Well, the ban in scouting applies to scout leaders.” While his statement isn’t a lie — the policy does, indeed, apply to Scout leaders — it does imply a fallacy. Namely, that the BSA policies apply only to adult leaders.

Hans Zeiger, a 23-year-old Pepperdine University grad student and author of “Get off My Honor: The Assault on the Boy Scouts of America,” continues the shell game in a guest column in the Mar. 10 issue of The Waco Tribune in which he commends Perry’s book.

Not once does Zeiger — whom I had the pleasure of debating when we were younger — mention directly the affect of the BSA’s policy on youth members. He does, however, claim that the Boy Scouts are “under attack by the secular left, particularly by the American Civil Liberties Union.” He also boldly claims that “to change or delude the Scout Oath and Law would be to part ways with a century of successes in Scouting.”

Read the rest at Q-Notes Online…

From the March 22 issue of Q-Notes, the leading LGBT news source of the Carolinas:

Rural gay youth struggle for acceptance
Close friendships provide strength against adversity

by Matt Comer . Q-Notes staff

ruralgayyouthWhen pondering North Carolina’s beautiful western mountains, most people will conjure up images of grand rolling hills, breathtaking views and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Almost no one will think of these vistas as places to encounter a rowdy crowd of openly gay teens. But, in the first decade of the 21st century, there they are.

Brandon, Michael, Kirk, Damien and Brian range in age from 15 to 21. Together, they are not social outcasts, but best friends, free from the daily struggles imposed upon them by their rural surroundings. With the help of one another, along with their families and other friends, they have created a safe space for support, growth and love.

Over the past two decades, there has been immense growth in the acceptance of gays and lesbians in metropolitan America. Although this change has taken longer to seep into rural areas, there are certainly small rays of hope.

Brandon, who recently came out to his family, says that even though it took his mother and father some time to deal with the issue, they continue to learn and grow.

“I had the chance to come out,” he says. “It was going to be a lot easier for me to move out after that, but my dad eventually accepted it and I moved back in. My mom still deals with it.”
For some of the boys, living with adopted or foster parents has been a blessing. They feel their birth families might not have been as accepting as their second families.

Read the rest at Q-Notes Online…


Gay man seeks S.C. county seat

From the March 22 issue of Q-Notes, the leading LGBT news source of the Carolinas:

Gay man seeks Greenville Council seat
James Akers’ first test will be June primary

by Matt Comer . Q-Notes staff

GREENVILLE, S.C. — When James Akers moved into town three years ago, he never imagined that he’d embark on a journey that could lead to him being the first openly gay person ever elected to office in South Carolina. But, that’s we’re he finds himself now. If he wins, he will claim a seat on the Greenville County Council and be the default leader and voice of the county’s LGBT community.

Akers’ decision to throw his hat into the ring wasn’t an easy one. It took some time to commit to the idea, he told Q-Notes. “I had been thinking about it for a year, maybe a year and a half. I finally made my decision around Valentine’s Day.”

Akers said his initial interest was sparked by what he thought was a “lack of response” from current council members and a keen interest in zoning laws. He made his bid official on Feb. 13.

“The reason it took me so long to decide to run, was that I knew my sexual orientation might be an issue and I needed to talk to the people in my county,” he said.

Read the rest at Q-Notes Online…

From the March 22 issue of Q-Notes, the leading LGBT news source of the Carolinas:

Charlotte school board passes anti-bullying policy
LGBT students offered protection after heated debate

by Matt Comer . Q-Notes staff

CHARLOTTE — After more than two hours of public comment and an hour of heated debate, the Charlotte-Mecklenberg Board of Education passed by a vote of 6-3 an anti-bullying and harassment measure including protections for LGBT students.

A packed auditorium at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center heard more than 40 citizens and students speak out on the policy. The overwhelming majority were in favor of adopting the new guideline for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS).

Arcena Todd, a senior at Berry Academy, told Q-Notes that bullying is a daily occurrence at her school. “This policy will give teachers the tools they need to stop the bullying and it will raise awareness. People aren’t aware of these issues and this is going to help them learn and grow.” Read the rest at Q-Notes Online…

City honors gay ‘Neighborhood Leader’
Tim Griffin awarded for work in Morningside/Plaza Midwood

by Will Billings . Contributing Writer

CHARLOTTE — Openly gay community leader Tim Griffin was honored with the 2008 Neighborhood Leader Award on Mar. 8. The award was presented by the City of Charlotte’s Neighborhood Development department at its 13th Annual Neighborhood Symposium.

Griffin, president of the Morningside Neighborhood Association, has devoted countless hours toward the revitalization of the Morningside neighborhood in the vicinity of Central Avenue, east of Uptown. The bohemian area is popular with gay and lesbian Charlotteans, artists and musicians.

Griffin and his partner Neil have helped organize the association into a strong and vibrant influence in the Plaza Midwood and Morningside areas. They have also helped create various sub-organizations to serve the interests of the neighborhood’s varied population, such as one group for mothers and children. Read the rest at Q-Notes Online…

From the March 22 issue of Q-Notes, the leading source of LGBT news in the Carolinas:

UNC queer youth ready for Unity
Largest LGBT student gathering in South could draw 500 or more

by Matt Comer . Q-Notes staff

dloCHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Since 2001, the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Straight Alliance (GLBTSA) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has drawn hundreds of queer youth and students from across the southeast for their annual Unity Conference, the largest LGBT and allied student gathering of its kind in the South.

The conference provides opportunities for participants to discuss the intersections of gender and sexuality with ability, age, class, faith, health, race and ethnicity. Students also discuss strategies for effective grassroots organizing and learn about the work of other activists.

This year, those discussions will fit into the conference theme, “Are you being served? LGBTIQ Representation in the Media.” The 2008 Unity Conference will span the weekend of Apr. 4-6.
“This is an election year, so there is a lot of media coverage around political and LGBT issues,” Conference Director Robert Wells told Q-Notes. “There has also been a lot of talk about the decline of LGBT characters on TV shows and in movies.”

Read the rest at Q-Notes online…

maryforresterCHARLOTTE, N.C. — The wife of a conservative North Carolina state senator sponsoring an anti-gay, anti-family marriage amendment has penned a hate-filled, factually inaccurate opinion piece for the radical Right-wing Christian Action League website.

The piece, written by Mary Frances Forrester, the wife of Sen. James Forrester (R-Gaston County), was published Feb. 29, but it took me quite a bit of time to sift through information on some of the topics she addressed. I was going to make a rebuttal to Mrs. Forrester’s op-ed the focus of my next Q-Notes editorial, but repeated attempts to contact Mrs. Forrester failed. Because I could never get in touch with her to get a list of sources she used in constructing her op-ed, I didn’t feel comfortable writing on it for the paper.

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