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Gay Agenda: January 2005

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Cirque Lawsuit, Crazy Krewes, Bunnies, Ernie’s new showcase, and much island excitement.

By Tim Brookover

Cirque du Soleil_2005

Flying high without a net. Photo courtesy: Cirque du Soleil.

SHAME DU SOLEIL. Those of us who enjoy Cirque du Soleil for its vivid shows and apparently liberal stance were stunned in 2002 when the company fired gymnast Matthew Cusick because he was HIV positive. In 2004, Cirque paid $600,000 to end an employment discrimination complaint that Cusick had filed with the help of Lambda Legal—the largest ever public settlement for an HIV-discrimination case. When he was sacked by Cirque (which performs in Houston January 6–February 6), Cusick lost his health insurance. He has recently performed with the New York aerial team AntiGravity.

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GOOD WORKS. Mardi Gras festivities arrive early this year. The Krewe of Olympus celebrates on January 29 with its annual ball at the George R. Brown Convention Center. Sands Stiefer helms the event. The theme is “Everything’s Bigger in Texas,” so expect even grander headdresses than usual. Beneficiaries include Lesbian Health Initiative. Gary Evans and Becky Brewer have been King and Queen Olympus this year.

The Rev. Carolyn Mobley of Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church recently shared that she and spouse Adrain Bowie and others with Excel, an MCC ministry, will travel to South Africa in March to work with the GLBT community there. On January 16, Don Gill is producing a benefit for the effort at Keys West. Shawn Thomas, the Alabama-based Christian singer and author of the book Being Gay: The Answer Is Love, will headline.

Doug Parvis of Bunnies on the Bayou has sent word that January 15 is the deadline for groups to apply for funding from the annual Easter extravaganza. Details: www.bunnies.org.

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IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD. The writing foursome known as Timothy James Beck will sign their latest novel, I’m Your Man, on January 15 at Borders River Oaks. The four scribes include local authors Becky Cochrane and Timothy Lambert, who we profiled last month (“ReadOut,” December) upon publication of He’s the One, the book they penned together. The other two TJL authors, winging in for the Borders event, are Jim Carter and Timothy Forry.

On January 26, Ernie Manouse debuts a new arts-focused program on HoustonPBS Channel 8. The AfterParty will air Wednesdays at 11 p.m. Manouse e-mailed last month: “Think Letterman, only with me and all local performing and visual arts guests! Everyone here loves the show. It is fresh and different for us—a lot more energy!”

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FAR-FLUNG CORRESPONDENTS. Former Houstonian Okiharu Ogiwara, who returned last year to his home in Japan, has written to report that he embarks this month on a sketching trip to London, Barcelona, and Paris. He had a one-man show at a Tokyo gallery in December.

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ON THE ISLAND. Three of the best entertainers around, Jerry Atwood, Marsha Carlton, and Sharon Montgomery, take over the historic Balinese Room in Galveston on January 8 for a new show, Red, Hot & Divas. The event kicks off the Mardi Gras hoopla for the gay krewes in town, the Krewe of Banners and Krewe of Oz.

On January 28, Krewe of Banners, founded by Eldrege Langlinais, returns to the Balinese Room for the Banner Party. Guests are asked to bring canned goods for the AIDS Coalition of Coastal Texas food pantry. Then on February 4, the Krewe of Oz—chaired by Dennis Sickels—hosts its annual black tie-or-costume ball at the Garten Verein. The benefit event raises funds to send children with HIV/AIDS to summer camp and to purchase school supplies for needy children in Galveston County.

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BOOK IT. Did your sewing circle plan a big holiday bash last month only to learn that the Chapeau Sisters fish fry and the Gay Interpretive Dance League recital were on the same night? Perhaps the Lavender Calendar, launching January 1, can help you avoid such scheduling snafus. The online date book (www.lavcal.com), featuring GBLT events in Houston and Dallas, is produced by Michael Moore (no, not the filmmaker) of Big D and a mysterious silent partner in H-Town (we know who, but we’re not telling).

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