To the great dismay of the members and leader of the anti-gay, far-right Operation Save America — including a member once charged and convicted of sex offense — the annual Pride Charlotte celebration for LGBT and straight Charlotteans went off without a hitch. According to police estimates, a record-breaking 10,000 people attended the festival at Uptown Charlotte’s Gateway Village at Trade and Cedar Streets, making the event the largest of its kind in the Carolinas and between Atlanta and Washington, D.C.

Out in force, of course, was Operation Save America. I have to say they behaved quite nicely during most of their visit with us, excluding only a couple times they had to be spoken to by members of security or Pride Charlotte staff. One protestor, Ante Pavkovic had to be escorted off the property after he was found to be filming. Excluding media outlets that followed a strict media access agreement and process, filming is prohibited by Gateway Village property management. (If you’ll remember, Ante was one of three individuals arrested and detained after interrupting a session of the U.S. Senate during a prayer offered by a Hindu priest on July 12, 2007.)

The group’s leader, the Rev. Flip Benham, traversed the festival grounds for a couple of hours, followed closely by two of the Pride Charlotte “Partners in Peace,” a group that acts as a buffer between the potentially harmful or disruptive behaviors of protestors and festival participants.

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Originally posted at Q-Notes’ InsideSource blog

Pride Charlotte is this weekend. The Q-Notes staff and I are expecting to see you at the day festival on Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. in Uptown’s Gateway Village. But did you know the weekend was full of partying, too?

Friday night beckons the beginning of the prideful weekend with the Miss Pride Charlotte Pageant hosted by Sabrina Love at Velocity. Special guest judge, “Queer as Folk” star Peter Paige, who played the always memorable Emmet Honeycutt, will also be guest for Love’s “Intimate Night with Peter Paige” immediately following the pageant. Doors open at 10 p.m., the pageant starts at 11 p.m.

And after a full day’s sun at Gateway Village on Saturday, everyone will need a place to cool down and catch a few drinks in the evening time. Clubs and bars across the entire Queen City have jumped in on Pride Charlotte’s Out on the Town. Sidelines, Hartigans, The Woodshed, Liaisons, Velocity, the Charlotte Eagle and more… they’ll all be hopping! You’ll have to pick up a copy of this year’s Pride Charlotte Pride Guide for all the details on Saturday night’s fun. On Sunday, don’t forget about Hartigan’s Pride Sunday Recovery Brunch; that party’ll start at Noon.

SKYY Vodka sent me some great recipes for some special Pride Charlotte mixing:

We all know and most of us love the symbolic flag created by Gilbert Baker for the San Francisco Gay Pride in 1978. The treasured symbol for the GLBT community became the popular gay unifier replacing the imposed pink triangle of the Hitler regime. Since its conception, the united colors have inspired countless reincarnations of the rainbow banner, with the best known being the 1 ¼ mile long flag that calls Key West its home.

During this weekend’s Pride festivities, reinvigorate the spirit of the rainbow with a colorful array of SKYY cocktails at your celebration of the community. A rainbow flag of cocktails this pride season is the perfect combination of décor and delectable!

The “six bold colors of SKYY cocktails” are below. I’ll certainly be trying some out this weekend. Hope you enjoy. I know I will be.

Go ahead and click the read more button for the recipes. You know you want to.

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DADT flashback: Greensboro 2006

Today Congress will hold the first hearing on the anti-gay “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy since its passage in 1993.

The hearing is at 2 p.m. and can be watched live via the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network website.

Until then, let’s take a trip down memory lane, to Sept. 21, 2006, Greensboro, N.C. (Click pic for PDF)

Click here for other media coverage

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We can do it, but you can’t

The religious right is good at two things. Mainly, they’re really good at twisting reality. They can make you believe almost anything as long as whatever they’re saying includes the words “God,” “Jesus,” “Christ” or “Bible.”

Secondly, they’re really good at bending the rules, applying them to everyone else or simply saying, “Rules? What rules? Oh, they don’t apply to us!”

Perhaps those are just two of many reasons why the U.S. Senate saw fit to investigate the financial goings-on of the Right’s largest big business televangelists. (And let’s not forget how the radical theocratic arm of the religious right punished one of its darling Republican senators for taking that stand.)

The American Family Association’s OneNewsNow.com reported on a Minnesota conservative who wants to take away Planned Parenthood’s tax exempt status:

According to Planned Parenthood’s latest annual report, the organization received more than $1 billion from revenues — nearly one-third of that figure came from “government grants and contracts.” In light of that report, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota) became outraged when she learned of Planned Parenthood’s new branding effort in her Minnesota district. She says the new strategy is a move away from helping poor women with family planning, and instead involves targeting latte-drinking, affluent women across America. But Bachmann claims Planned Parenthood has always been about big business.

“When Planned Parenthood brings in over a billion dollars in revenues, pays no taxes, and sits at the end of the year fat and happy with $115 million in the bank and brazenly works to go after affluent women rather than helping out poor women, as their original mission statement said, I agree with the executive director of Illinois Planned Parenthood, who said ‘Planned Parenthood wants to be the LensCrafters of family planning,'” said Bachmann. “In other words,” she notes, “they want to be the big-box retailer.”

What about those multi-million (if not hundred million) dollar church and ministry buildings? Hundreds of religious complexes across the country include some of the most luxurious amenities imaginable.

Religious right non-profits aren’t going to be as big as Planned Parenthood. For one, they don’t exist to offer free or nearly free medical services and they don’t have to pay salaries to nurses and doctors. They don’t have to buy medical supplies and they don’t have to maintain medical equipment or facilities. No matter how you look it at, it’s easy to see that a medical organization as large as Planned Parenthood is going to spend lots of money.

That $1 billion Bachmann balks over is actually nothing. Most of that was spent. “Bachmann claims Planned Parenthood has always been about big business,” the article reads.

Maybe she should pick up a mirror and look at her membership in the religious right.

American Family Association (AFA)
REVENUE: $22,547,087
NET ASSETS: $37,071,086

Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN)
REVENUE: $246,986,289
NET ASSETS: $196,238,411

Focus on the Family
REVENUE: $142,279,843
NET ASSETS: $79,316,290

And… Get this. Here’s some laughable information from Baylor University, the largest Baptist -affiliated university in the world (yes, that means Southern Baptist).

REVENUE: $463,963,929
NET ASSETS: $1,230,180,215

Head football coach salary: $1,148,289
as compared to President’s salary: $167,531

It would be nice if someone could explain to me why Christian organizations need so much money. Jesus never operated with this much cash. In fact, he abhorred earthly riches and wealth. Gosh, I haven’t even mentioned Pat Robertson’s gold and diamond mine investments.

(All financial records from Charity Navigator)

Yeah… it pretty much sounds as though British advertising execs Ian Johnson (Out Now Consulting) and Andrew Roberts (Amro Worldwide), who’ve spoken extensively with Q-Notes, are calling South Carolina government officials liars.

According to Q-Notes, Johnson and Roberts say that South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism (SCPRT) officials made “knowingly incorrect statements” regarding the ad campaign’s approval. For days, officials — mostly through spokesperson Marion Edmonds — have said a “low-level employee” approved the ads without permission.

However, Edmonds admitted to Q-Notes that no written policy regarding a prohibition on niche marketing of this type existed prior to this controversy. Further, it was only until the anti-gay flare up of S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford that all ad campaigns will now have to be approved by SCPRT department head Chad Prosser. And, going further, a marketing plan in which the “So Gay” campaign would perfectly fit was found by South Carolina LGBT activists.

That plan read, “Develop and update advertisement creative to showcase the diversity of the state¢s tourism product (new creative will continue to support the traditional up-scale market with a broadened appeal to the middle-income family market; additionally, new creative will continue to include South Carolina’s developed product of golf, beach and sun while simultaneously highlighting additional product niches such as entertainment, shopping, outdoor adventure, historical sites, state parks and Heritage Corridor as relevant to each market; where appropriate creative will support the overall advertising campaign of the agency).”

The lead on the plan was Randolph Romaine, SCPRT’s International Sales Manager for the U.K. and Ireland. Edmonds confirmed to Q-Notes that SCPRT no longer employed Romaine and said his position was more “mid-level management” rather than that of a “low-level employee.”

Read up on the full details at Q-Notes Online.

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Ripped to shreads: Renzi gets Crain’d

I’ve always had a good bit of respect for Chris Crain, former Washington Blade/SoVo editor and partner in Window Media. Of course that isn’t saying I’ve always agreed with him, but I have had admiration for the part he played in creating a power-house of a media company.

Back in May, Crain had some criticism of QNotes. To my knowledge, Crain has never personally criticized me and nothing he said in May even compares to how he’s pretty much ripped apart another editor of a gay publication.

Dan Renzi, former MTV “Real World: Miami” star, was hired in May as the new editor of South Florida’s Express Gay News.

“Renzi’s journalism credentials — a few freelance articles and a stint at Queerty — are certainly unusual,” Crain writes.

Renzi also served as editor of the student paper at Rutgers University. And, there have been more than “a few” of those freelance pieces. (A little understatement for effect, Chris?)

I’m really not one to point fingers on the basis of “credentials.” I didn’t have any real experience working in journalism before I was hired at QNotes. Although I had years of blogging experience and interactions working with the media, I’d never been employed by any publication. The first six months of my time at QNotes was a crash course that, surprisingly, contained very few crashes.

What I did have to bring the table — and I imagine Renzi has something to bring as well — was my years worth of activism and community work, my knowledge of the Carolinas community, my experience with blogging, the internet, social networking, etc., and dedication and commitment to learning, writing, speaking and exposing the truth.

Crain continues (emphasis mine):

Alas, the early returns aren’t encouraging. This week’s “editorial” is about how he took the day off from his Express duties to work as a stringer for Us Weekly, trying to gather dirt on baseball phenom Alex Rodriguez, rumored to be having an affair with Madonna. Is this was “E-List” celebs do in their spare time? Dig dirt on those with higher listings?

Dan’s gift of gab is well-suited for his blog “How was your day, Dan?” or even for 411, the lifestyle mag produced out of the same Fort Lauderdale offices as the Express. But readers of South Florida’s only serious gay publication deserve better than an editor who has decided to treat his editorial column “like it’s a big blog post from now on. Screw the politics and the news is unnecessary.”

I agree with Crain — Renzi’s decision on the editorial is pretty bad. I know that I look forward to my editorial column every two weeks. It’s my one chance in the entire print edition of the paper to have an insightful, serious opinion on the news or recent events. Every so often, I might even get to speak on behalf of the paper. Both are responsibilities that I don’t take lightly. Renzi apparently doesn’t have the same philosophy.

What I really find funny, though, is that what Renzi is most famous for is something I’m really not old enough to remember. When he debuted on MTV in the summer of 1996, I was just a 10-year-old kid wasting away the summer between fourth and fifth grade.

Age ain’t a thing, but, certainly, your outlook on what your job means and just how devoted you are to it do mean something. I’m going to give Renzi a chance and reserve my judgment of his abilities. I know I needed some time to adjust and I’m sure he does, too. I might not have had “the credentials,” but I still brought good things with me; I’m sure Renzi’s the same.

We’ll have to come back and examine this six months from now.

QNotes (Charlotte, NC), the Carolinas’ LGBT multimedia news source (disclosure: I’m employed as editor) is reporting that the directive to cancel the “South Carolina is so gay” London gay pride advertising campaign came straight from the office of S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford:

When South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford learned that his state was being advertised as a gay tourism destination, he ordered a Cabinet-level department head “to do the right thing personnel-wise or process-wise to ensure this does not happen again,” Sanford’s spokesman Joel Sawyer told Q-Notes.

Sanford was reacting to U.S. media reports that a subway poster mounted in London, England, during Gay Pride week was announcing, “South Carolina is so gay.”

[snip]

In the Governor’s office, Sawyer said that the state will not promote itself as a tourist destination through campaigns “aimed at a specific group of people.”

Sawyer said the “so gay” ad should have been “run up the flagpole,” but did not know whether any standard procedures were violated at the time it was approved.

“It defies common sense that someone would sign off on an advertising campaign that controversial,” Sawyer said.

Asked whether South Carolina would, for example, position itself as a tourist destination for African-Americans by utilizing black media and promoting vacation spots of relevant cultural interest, Sawyer said that the state does not “get into targeting a specific group that might have a social or political agenda.”

Ian Johnson, CEO of Out Now, the British ad agency that prepared the campaign, also spoke to QNotes, his first interview with a U.S. media outlet:

Out Now CEO Ian Johnson spoke to Q-Notes in his first interview with a U.S. media outlet regarding the upset from his gay marketing agency’s branch office in Brussels, Belgium. “The reaction from the South Carolina politicians is quite disturbing,” he said. “I felt sorry for the gay and lesbian community there.”

I’ve also written an editorial, “Sanford is so stupid.” Snippet below:

The recent flap over the “South Carolina is so gay” British ad campaign has left the heads of LGBT citizens in the Carolinas spinning.

What the hell happened and how’d it happen so fast? One minute, South Carolina’s going about its “Dixie”-whistling ways and the next it’s busting out with Barbara Streisand show tunes and musicals. Then, out of no where, the politicians take over and the Pink Palmetto is slammed back in the closet.

The story broken by QNotes — that the directive to do away with the “So Gay” campaign came straight from the office of Gov. Mark Sanford — puts a continued national spotlight on the Palmetto State.

Rumor has it that Gov. Sanford is on the short list in the Republican veepstakes. His name keeps popping up in GOP circles and his small government, anti-tax, libertarian-esque record would compliment Sen. John McCain.

Good stances on taxes and small government, though, don’t make good leaders. Sanford’s hostility toward LGBT citizens and his reluctance to deal with our existence are key character flaws. If Sanford hopes to be McCain’s V.P. (a pie-in-the-sky dream after his abysmal, Miss South Carolina-style performance on CNN), let’s hope he quickly learns the value of appreciating and valuing all of his constituency — gay or straight.

I posted yesterday about The Denver Daily News‘ hit piece on gay parents and their kids. Denver’s gayzetteblog.com has done a great job covering the news. GLAAD and other gay groups jumped on it quick too.

From the follow-up article:

Denver psychologist Dr. Vivian Schaefer, who works closely with gay patients and is affiliated with GLBT studies courses at the University of Denver, said the children of her gay clients adjust to society the same way the children of her heterosexual clients do.

“These kids don’t experience anymore difficulty than children raised by their heterosexual counterparts,” said Schaefer, who added that her client-base is about 50 percent gay.

She said she hears the same concerns from her gay clients as she does from her heterosexual clients about their children, including issues like behavior at school and difficulty choosing colleges.

Schaefer said for every study that indicates children of gay parents are more likely to be gay themselves, there is a study to prove the opposite.

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NC & GA on SC ‘so gay’

Spagnola, a conservative blogger from Greensboro, NC, with whom I often have my disagreements, had a hilarious post on the “South Carolina is so gay” ad flap:

I can see North Carolina calling up Georgia right now:

NC: “I heard that South Carolina stopped whistling Dixie and started singing Liza Minelli tunes.”

GA: “That South Carolina is SO gay.”

Spag says, “It was supposed to be an advertisement, but it reads like a taunt.”

I’ve heard some of that — even from the gay community. There are still lots of folks uneasy with the “so gay” reference, as it remains the taunt-of-choice in schools across the nation.

But then Spag just tops it off. I broke down in almost uncontrollable laughter:

I guess “South Carolina is flaming” and “South Carolina is on fire” were opposed by the forestry service.

A little laughter never hurts.

Via gayzetteblog.com (Denver) we learn of an absolutely ludicrous, radical right agenda-laden hit piece on LGBT parents and their kids.

Entitled, “Gay parents = gay kids? Study: Kids raised by gay folks more likely to grow up gay,” The Denver Daily News article states:

As many as 21 percent of homosexually parented children become gay themselves, according to several studies recently reviewed and validated by a California psychologist.

The article by Dr. Trayce L. Hansen reviews all available research on homosexually parented children and concludes that children raised by gay parents are between four and 10 times more likely to develop a “non-hetereosexual preference” than other children.

“There are a number of non-genetic mechanisms through which homosexuality could be transmitted from one generation to the next,” Hansen writes in the article entitled, “Pro-Homosexual Researchers Conceal Findings: Children Raised by Openly Homosexual Parents More Likely To Engage in Homosexuality.”

“Those mechanisms include role-modeling, social learning and differential reinforcement, as well as outright encouragement of non-heterosexuality by parents or others,” the article continues.

Anybody with half a brain and even moderately involved in LGBT advocacy should immediately recognize the source of this “study.” No scientific researcher worth half their beans would dare use the highly politicized term “Pro-Homosexual.” The title of this “study” shows bias from the get go.

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