Local News

News Briefs: September 2007

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Kindred Spirit sets record, KPFT shooting, 2008 parade In Montrose In June, Rupaul headlines Black Tie and more.

Kindred Spirits Event Sets Record
KPFT Increases Security After Shooting
Pride Houston Votes To Keep 2008 Parade In Montrose In June
Caucus PAC Makes Endorsements
Local Pastors React To Church’s Decision To Renege On Gay Veteran’s Memorial Service
Rupaul Will Headline Black Tie Dinner
Hollywood Superstore Busted For Sex Toys
Pride Festival Debuts In Galveston
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KINDRED SPIRITS EVENT SETS RECORD

KindredSpirits
The Kindred Spirits reunion crew.

Organizers of the Kindred Spirits reunion celebration say the 2007 event was the group’s most successful event ever.

More than 600 people attended the annual fundraiser on April 28, helping to raise a total of nearly $10,000 for four local beneficiaries. AssistHers, Bering Support Group, Houston Buyers Club, and Lesbian Health Initiative shared the proceeds from the yearly reunion of patrons of the legendary ’80s-era nightclub owned by Marion Coleman.

The seventh annual event is set for April 26 at the Hornberger Center. More information: www.kindredspiritshouston.org.

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KPFT INCREASES SECURITY AFTER SHOOTING

A bullet fired through the front window of the KPFT-FM studios in the early morning hours of August 13 has prompted station management to increase security at the facility in Montrose.

Though no one was injured, the bullet narrowly missed Mary Thomas, a volunteer programmer for the weekly Zydeco show. The bullet is thought to have been fired from a slow-moving white car observed earlier by another programmer, KPFT general manager Duane Bradley told the Houston Chronicle.

A shell casing often used in conjunction with AK-47 assault rifles was later found at the scene by KPFT chief engineer Steve Brightwell, Bradley told Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now, the Pacifica network program that airs on KPFT.

The station recently installed wooden boards over the window that faces Lovett Boulevard, where broadcasters could be easily observed seated at the microphone. A test proved the boards strong enough to stop a bullet fired from an assault rifle.

Jimmy Carper, executive producer of the KPFT program After Hours (see “That’s a Lot of Talk”), said he is comfortable with security measures at the station.

“We have good lighting in the front of the building with security cameras,” he said. “In the control room there is a TV screen divided into fourths that show all areas. That’s to help the person in the control room to identify who’s at the front door. There is also strong lighting in the back of the building and more cameras.”

Police had identified no suspects in the case by OutSmart press deadline.

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PRIDE HOUSTON VOTES TO KEEP 2008 PARADE IN MONTROSE IN JUNE

In an August 18 town-hall meeting held for Pride Houston volunteers, approximately 20 people who attended voted to eliminate the Pride Festival for 2008.

“Please understand that this vote was not in any way a reflection on the performance of the Festival Committee,” stated the minutes of the meeting, posted on the Pride Houston website. “They did everything humanly possible to make the Festival a success, but sadly the community just never supported us.”

The festival, held on the afternoon prior to the nighttime Pride Parade for the past three years, featured vendor tents, musical performances, and community and historical exhibits.

This year, a heavy afternoon rainstorm discouraged festival attendance. The lack of paid attendance resulted in a financial shortfall, according to previous statements made by Pride Houston leadership, causing the group to finish the 2007 season in the red by several thousand dollars for the first time in the group’s history.

Pride Houston has since obtained a line of credit to help alleviate the financial burden. Pride Houston has also sent letters to some of the 2007 parade’s participants, asking to keep deposits paid by entrants.

Several possible alternatives to the festival, including a downtown concert, will be considered by the group at a September 11 meeting.

Thirty people attended an August 25 meeting of Pride Houston’s board of directors to observe a vote on the future of the Pride Parade. Citing the results of a recent community survey, as well as lack of funds, board members voted unanimously to keep the annual GLBT parade in Montrose in June (read “Decision: Pride, August 2007 OutSmart ).

The resignation of Pride Houston board president Carol Wyatt, as well as the resignation of four other Pride Houston board and production team members were announced at the meeting. Board members attending the meeting thanked Wyatt for the contribution she made to pride Houston during her year-long tenure.

More information: www.pridehouston.org.

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CAUCUS PAC MAKES ENDORSEMENTS

At its August 1 meeting, the Houston GLBT Political Caucus political-action committee voted to endorse a slate of candidates for the November 6 municipal elections.

“We had outstanding candidates seeking our endorsement and very difficult decisions had to be made,” caucus president Jenifer Pool said. In one of the City Council races, the caucus PAC voted to endorse candidate Jolanda Jones over Ray Ramirez, who is openly gay, based on responses given during the endorsement screening process.

Candidates receiving endorsements: Annise Parker, City Controller; Sue Lovell, City Council At-Large 2; Melissa Noriega, City Council At-Large 3; Ron Green, City Council At-Large 4; Jolanda Jones, City Council At-Large 5; Jarvis Johnson, City Council District B; Anne Clutterbuck, City Council District C; Wanda Adams, City Council District D; Adrian Garcia, City Council District H; James Rodriguez, City Council District I; Paula Harris, HISD District 4; and Kevin J. Hoffman, Houston Community College System Trustee District 1.

More information: www.hglbtpc.org.

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Local pastors react to church’s decision to renege on gay veteran’s memorial service

Though Cecil Sinclair, an openly gay Navy veteran, was not a member of High Point Church in Arlington, his brother was the church’s janitor.

When Sinclair died on August 10, the church agreed to hold a memorial service for him.

But when church officials discovered Sinclair was gay and would be eulogized as a gay man at the service by loved ones, the Dallas-area church had a change of heart.

“We did decline to host the service—not based on hatred, not based on discrimination, but based on principle,” Simons told the Associated Press. “Had we known it on the day they first spoke about it—yes, we would have declined then. It’s not that we didn’t love the family.”

According to the AP report, High Point’s pastor, Gary Simons, canceled the service 24 hours before it was scheduled to begin. Simons said the decision was made after staff members assembling a video montage of Sinclair’s life saw pictures of men “engaging in clear affection, kissing, and embracing.”

Kathleen Wright, Sinclair’s sister, told AP that the assertion by Simons regarding the pictures was   “a bold-faced lie.” She said she provided numerous family pictures of Sinclair to the videographers, including some with his partner, but said none showed men kissing or hugging.

Simons said the church believes homosexuality is a sin, and would have appeared to endorse that lifestyle if the service had been held there.

He added that the church offered to pay for another site for the service, made the video, and provided food for more than 100 relatives and friends.

Joel Osteen, pastor of the sprawling Lakewood Church in Houston, is Simons’ brother-in-law (Osteen is married to Simons’ sister, Victoria). Houstonian Alan Hurwitz shared in an email to OutSmart that he contacted Osteen to ask whether Lakewood Church supported the High Point decision. Hurwitz received the following reply from a “Customer Service” email address.

“We have members of all walks of life here, and would not deny any member a memorial or funeral service. We would honor their life and respect that time along with their family. However, we do not celebrate the homosexual lifestyle in a memorial or funeral service. Sincerely, Lakewood Church.”

Hurwitz told OutSmart that he considers the Lakewood Church website to be misleading. “It is obvious that Lakewood is not a place ‘where all are welcome—a place where all individuals and families can grow and flourish in faith and discover God’s plan for their lives,'” he observed.

“The intolerance and hypocrisy that was revealed by the Arlington pastor’s canceling the memorial service for the gay veteran [Cecil Howard Sinclair] made me deeply sad,” commented Rev. Andy Noel of Bering Memorial United Methodist Church. “As a Christian clergyman, I know that one of the most sacred and fragile times of my ministry is when preparing for a funeral service.

“The cancellation of Sinclair’s service was probably motivated by the principle of ‘love the sinner but hate the sin.’ But sexual orientation is a gift from God, not a lifestyle choice. Homosexuality is not a sin.

“Jesus was in the love business, not the judgment business.”

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RUPAUL WILL HEADLINE BLACK TIE DINNER

Performer RuPaul will headline the 2007 Houston Black Tie Dinner on November 10 at the Hyatt Regency Houston, organizers have announced.

Known by many as “Supermodel of the World,” the title of his 1993 chart-topping CD, RuPaul has remained an icon of the gay community. A fixture at Wigstock, the wildly popular New York City drag festival, RuPaul is currently working on a ninth studio album and stars in a new comedy film, Starrbooty , which had its world premiere at the Philadelphia International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival in July (“RuPaul has made a comeback in the best way possible: in the outrageously subversive spirit of John Waters,” wrote Advocate critic Kyle Buchanan).

In addition to a performance by RuPaul, the charitable event will feature a silent auction, dinner, and dance music provided by Infinite Grooves.

At the dinner, the Human Rights Campaign Houston will receive the J. Hollyfield Political Service Award, and Houstonians Sandy Clough and Stephanie McClain will be named humanitarians of the year. This year, the Black Tie Dinner introduces a Corporate Angel Award, with Walgreens as the first recipient.

Event beneficiaries are AIDS Foundation Houston, AssistHers, Bering Omega Community Services, Casa de Esperanza de los Niños, Montrose Counseling Center, PFLAG Houston, and the PFLAG/HATCH Youth Scholarship Fund. Individual tickets start at $205, with tables seating 10 reaching the $10,000 level. More information: www.houstonblacktiedinner.org.

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Hollywood Superstore busted for sex toys

On July 31, members of the Houston Police Department entered Hollywood Superstore in Montrose, arresting owner Danny Dang and two Hollywood employees for “selling and promoting obscene devices.” The “obscene devices,” in this case, were latex dildoes.

The men were charged with a Class A misdemeanor, which carries penalties of a fine of $5,000 and/or a year in jail. After the men spent the night in city jail, the case is working its way through the courts, community activist and legal advocate, Ray Hill, told OutSmart.

Hill added that personal possession of as many as five dildoes is lawful; possession of six or more indicates intent to distribute, according to Texas law.

According to Hill, there are currently 112 outlets for sexual devices within Houston city limits.

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Pride Festival debuts in Galveston

Laura Villagrán, publisher of Gay Yellow Pages and the online site GayIslander.com, has announced plans to present the first Galveston Island Pride Festival next month. The event on October 27, noon-9 p.m., in Saengerfest Park will include music performances, a costume contest, and exhibitor booths. Sponsors of this inaugural Galveston event include Harbor Metropolitan Community Church. Updates: www.galvestonpride.org.

Villagrán also reports that she plans to open a GLBT visitors’ center this month in Galveston. This new center will share office space with the GayYellow Pages telephone directory and GayIslander.com.

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