Fairbanks fundraiser for gay cabbie injured in assault

Early on the morning of Thursday, January 13, Johnmichael, a driver for Eagle Cabs in Fairbanks, was beaten in the face with the claw side of a hammer. His assailant, Robert Charles Evans, is in jail charged with first degree assault and first degree robbery. Both charges are class A felonies in Alaska, and could garner Evans a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

A news account of the events surrounding the attack appeared in the following day's newspaper:
From circumstance recounted there, it does not appear that the attack on Johnmichael was motivated by antigay sentiment, but by robbery. Regardless of motivation, as a result of the attack, Johnmichael cannot work and is faced with unexpected medical expenses, including a surgery scheduled for February 1 -- not to mention ongoing living expenses normally covered by his income as a taxi driver.

Johnmichael's fellow cabbies have been putting together donations to help Johnmichael in his time of need. The Fairbanks and Alaska LGBT & allied community is also stepping forward, with a benefit to be held Saturday in Fairbanks:
  • Day/time: Saturday, January 29, 2011, 7:00 PM until the wee hours
  • Location: Last Roundup Steak House (upstairs lounge), 2701 S. Cushman, Fairbanks (see map)
  • Info: Suggested donation $10 -- more if you can! We are planning a night of Karaoke, eating, and drinking. It will be a fun way to raise money for someone in our community who needs our help. Any amount you can donate small/large will be greatly appreciated.
If you're not in Fairbanks or otherwise can't attend, send any amount to:
Johnmichael care of Eagle Cab
555 Front St.
Fairbanks, AK 99701
You can also call Bill Northup (the manager of Eagle Cab ) at (907) 456-8536 and put an amount on a credit card care of Johnmichael. The cab company will then give him the cash.

Johnmichael has written to Bent Alaska and to other supporters expressing his heartfelt gratitude for donations and other help he's already received. He says he plans to attend the benefit, and intends to speak there about the need to start an emergency relief fund for the GLBT people caught in similar emergencies. "I'm feeling ok," he writes, "Just have a pounding headache. As you can imagine. My need comes in because I can not go back to work without a doctors release & I have a surgery scheduled for the 1st of Feb." He intends to return to work as soon as he's recovered.

We wish you a speedy recovery, Johnmichael.

Anchorage’s LGBT Discrimination Survey

by Melissa S. Green

Originally published as an op-ed in the Anchorage Press on Thursday, January 27, 2011.

In the 1980s, I was part of two major research efforts conducted by Identity, Inc. to document sexual orientation bias in Alaska. One in 10: A Profile of Alaska’s Lesbian & Gay Community, published in 1986, reported on the results of a statewide survey of 734 lesbian, gay, and bisexual Alaskans. Identity Reports: Sexual Orientation Bias in Alaska, published in 1989, included three papers, including “Closed Doors,” a survey of Anchorage employers and landlords; and “Prima Facie,” which documented 84 actual cases of of violence, harassment, and discrimination due to sexual orientation bias. (Copies of both reports are available on the Internet at http://www.henkimaa.com/identity/.) Some of our findings:

Of the 734 respondents to One in 10:

  • 61% reported being victimized by violence and harassment while in Alaska because of their sexual orientation (ranging from verbal abuse/harassment, reported by 58%, to physical violence, 11%, and sexual assault, 5%);
  • 39% reported discrimination in employment, housing, and loans/credit; and
  • 33% reported discrimination from services and institutions.
From the “Closed Doors” component of Identity Reports:
  • 31% of the 191 Anchorage employers in the survey said they would not hire or promote or would fire someone they had reason to believe was homosexual.
  • 20% of the 178 Anchorage landlords in the survey said they would not rent to or would evict someone they had reason to believe was homosexual.
From the “Prima Facie” component of Identity Reports:
  • 84 case histories of antigay bias, discrimination, harassment, or violence (including three murders) were documented involving 30 men and 21 women. 64 of these cases took place in Anchorage.
  • A former intake investigator with the Alaska Human Rights Commission found that 32 of 42 discrimination cases based on personal testimony would "definitely" be jurisdictional under state human rights law if it included protection from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. (That is, the commission would investigate them if complaints were made.)
  • Victims were predominately gay men or lesbians, but also included heterosexuals who were erroneously assumed to be gay or lesbian.
On June 16, 2009, I testified about these findings before the Anchorage Assembly during public hearings on Anchorage Ordinance 64, which would have added sexual orientation and gender identity to the Municipality of Anchorage’s equal rights code. I also provided every member of the Anchorage Assembly with CDs containing the full reports, as well as photocopies of the “Prima Facie” report.

In spite of this evidence, one of the chief arguments used in 2009 by opponents of equal rights was that there was no evidence of discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) people. Mayor Dan Sullivan echoed those arguments when, less than a week after the Anchorage Assembly passed AO-64 by a vote of 7 to 4, he vetoed the measure, claiming that “there is clearly a lack of quantifiable evidence necessitating this ordinance.” And so for the third time in 35 years, the Anchorage Assembly in 2009 passed an ordinance that provided at least some equal rights under the law for LGBT residents, only for those rights to be almost immediately stripped away again. (The other instances were in 1975–76 and 1992–93.)

But of course, the evidence of One in Ten and Identity Reports was two decades old, so Mayor Sullivan and ordinance opponents found it easy to ignore. But they found it just as easy to close their ears to the public testimony of a number of Anchorage LGBT residents who stepped forward during the summer of 2009 to testify to very recent experiences of discrimination and bias — even after one opponent openly testified to the Assembly that he’d once beaten a gay man so badly that he put him in the hospital. Public testimony about discrimination, no matter how recent, was downplayed as "just anecdotal.”

And so we come to 2011 and the Anchorage LGBT Discrimination Survey, now in progress: the first effort since the late 1980s to compile rigorous data about the incidence of sexual orientation bias and discrimination in Anchorage — and the first effort ever to document Anchorage or Alaska-specific data about discrimination and bias on the basis of gender identity.

The Anchorage LGBT Discrimination Survey is a collaborative project of the Alaska LGBT community and a coalition of Alaska organizations which serve the LGBT community, including Identity, Inc., the Alaskan AIDS Assistance Association (4-As), Alaskans Together for Equality, Equality Works, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Alaska. Our survey questionnaire and overall research project were designed with the expert assistance of Dr. Brad Myrstol and Khristy Parker of the Justice Center at University of Alaska Anchorage. In the future, we plan to conduct a second and far more expansive statewide survey, which will survey LGBT Alaskans statewide not only about their experience of discrimination and bias, but also a full range of other questions of concerns to LGBT Alaskans and their friends and allies.

In the meantime, online surveys are at our project website, http://alaskacommunity.org/, and on the ACLU of Alaska website at http://www.akclu.org/ by clicking the button marked “LGBT Survey.” To obtain a PIN number to access the online survey, or to receive a printed version of the survey, contact Shelby Carpenter of the ACLU of Alaska at (907) 263-2006 or at scarpenter@akclu.org. Survey data collection will continue until February 28, 2011.

We invite the participation of all members of the LGBT community in this important and confidential survey, and we welcome the assistance of our non-LGBT friends and allies in getting the word out.

Melissa S. (Mel) Green was principal writer of One in Ten: A Profile of Alaska’s Lesbian & Gay Community (1986) and coauthor with Jay K. Brause of Identity Reports: Sexual Orientation Bias in Alaska (1989). She is a founding member of the Alaska LGBT Community Survey Task Force. (She also has a blog at Henkimaa.com.)

Sara's News Roundup 1/23/11

Recent LGBT news selected by Sara Boesser in Juneau, Alaska.

Chicago, Illinois, Huffington Post, January 21, 2011

Brazil, LA Times, January 21, 2011

Maryville, Tenn., Daily Times, January 20, 2011

San Francisco, Advocate, January 19, 2011

TowerRoad, January 2011

London, AFP, January 18, 9:07 am ET

Kathmandu, Nepal, Inquirer.net, January 9, 2011

U.K., Advocate, January 21, 2011

Cheyenne, Wyo., Billings Gazette, January 20, 2011

Maryland, Advocate, January 21, 2011

Pam's House Blend, January 12, 2011

Young Is Getting Old For Alaska!

- by Caleb Pritt

Don Young is a good person to meet and to visit with. I would love the opportunity to go fishing with him sometime if he ever offered, though I doubt he would. But Young is getting Old for Alaska.

Now before you think this is an attempt by a young man to use Don Young's thirty-eight years in Congress against him, it's not. It's the fact that his votes are so out of line with Alaska and Alaska's best interest, something he likes to say he represents. Don Young has reverted more and more to voting the Republican Party line, rather than voting for Alaska's line, for the future.

Today, Don Young joined a band of reactionary Republicans in voting to repeal the Healthcare Reform that ALREADY passed the House before. This was a moment where a senior "indpendent-minded" Republican could have said, "We need to focus on the issues before us, not what is behind us." Instead, Don Young chose the party politics of Washington, D.C. over Alaska's best interest. He says the bill was unconstitutional, yet why didn't he do anything when it was decided the first time? Theres plenty of parlimentary tricks he could have employed. Even at that, he could have split the provisions of the bill and voted against the Individual Mandates and yet still voted for providing health care to those with preexisting conditions. He could have added a rider to provide more funding for rural and for native health care efforts. Instead, Don Young disappointed Alaska and turned his back on Alaska by playing the Washington, D.C. game.

Awhile back, there was a move to alleviate the American taxpayer of the tax-dollar draining provision known as Don't Ask, Don't Tell, a provision that has wasted hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars. Don Young claims he's a friend and advocate for taxpayers but rather than using that as justification to remove DADT, he voted against repeal. In fact, Lisa Murkowski could look past her partisan label and partisan leanings to do the right thing, but Don Young who talks Alaska when running for re-election every two years, par for the course votes Washington, D.C. politics once safely back in office.

Don Young has built up a mystique of invincibility to some of the political prognisticators and the press. But my question as a constitutent of the Congressman is who do you represent: Alaska or the Republican Party? This past November, a plurality of Alaska voters said no to partisan politics and yes to those who place Alaska first in the U.S. Senate. In fact, 2/3rd's did this if you combine Murkowski & McAdam's votes over the very partisan Miller. So the question must be asked, is Alaska not getting too old to deal with Young?

Congressman, you can't go forward by going back. Alaska has always moved forward. I suggest it's time to start doing that again or come home and let another Alaskan go forward with Alaska, not back with party politics!

Dennis Goff (1951-2010)

Dennis Goff, formerly of Anchorage, died unexpectedly at the age of 59 on Nov. 3, 2010, in Hawaii. Sorry for the late posting, I didn't know until recently. His legacy book is still open, and friends are encouraged to add a message. Condolences to his partner Sheldon, his many friends and students, and all who were touched by his life and his music.

A local gathering was held in the UAA recital hall. His ashes were divided among his favorite Hawaiian beach, the Chugach Mountains in Alaska and his family's hometown in Ohio.
Born Aug. 19, 1951, in Toledo, Ohio, he graduated from East Anchorage High School in 1969, and taught voice and English in the Anchorage School District until his retirement in 1994.

After retirement, Dennis continued to tutor students in his home and advocated for their success in the music profession. His was a familiar face at many musical venues throughout the city.

He was a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS), Anchorage Community Chorus, Alaska Chamber Singers, Anchorage Festival of Music, Trattoria Singers, Anchorage Opera, Camarato Otto and Waikoloa Outdoor Circle.

One of Dennis's favorite excursions was sharing with friends the beauty of Denali National Park. Another special recreation spot was the Chugach Mountains. It was his desire to move to a sunny climate. That goal was met when he recently relocated to the Big Island of Hawaii.

Warm and good-natured, Dennis was a reliable friend whose sunny smile and quirky humor endeared him to those of us who knew him best. Though he is gone too quickly, he enjoyed every day, especially the last few months in his Hawaiian paradise. The space he left cannot be filled. He cared deeply about us, and has a permanent place in our hearts, where he will always make music.

He was predeceased by his parents, Harvey and Violet (Lemon) Goff, who lived in Port Clinton, Ohio.

Surviving family members include his life partner, Sheldon Meier of Waikoloa Village, Hawaii; his sister, Marsha (James) Elsen and niece Becky Elsen of Croton, Ohio; nephews, Jimmy Elsen of Anderson, Ind., and Scott Elsen of Bay City, Mich.; and many close friends in Anchorage.

In lieu of flowers, a donation in Dennis' memory may be sent to the National Association of Teachers of Singing, Alaska Chapter Student Scholarship fund, 9050 Basher Drive, Anchorage 99507 or to a charity of the donor's choosing.
The obituary above was in the ADN. He was also remembered in West Hawaii Today, which covers his home in Waikoloa Village.

Rest in Peace, Dennis.

Time Travel with Four A's at 25

You are cordially invited to join Four A's in celebrating our 25th anniversary. Experience 25 years in one night during a most triumphant fundraiser. Reserve your seat in our time machine and experience live time travel. The evening will be a most excellent adventure showcasing our history and the history of HIV/AIDS in Alaska. You won't believe where we visit and who visits us!

Four A's 25th Anniversary
Saturday, February 26, 7-9:30 pm
Crosspoint Community Church, in Anchorage
Tickets $50 each. Call (263-2050) to reserve your tickets, or buy on online at Four A's.

Alaska ACLU's 40 Heroes include Identity, Out North

2011 will mark the 40th Anniversary of the ACLU of Alaska and they're celebrating with a Gala Evening honoring 40 Heroes of Constitutional Rights. Identity, Inc. is one of the heroes. Other honorees connected to the LGBT community include Out North and Anchorage attorney Allison Mendel.

"Please join the ACLU of Alaska on Saturday, January 22, 2011 at the Dena'ina Center to honor these individuals and organizations who have led the way in creating a state that honors and protects personal freedom, individual liberty, and constitutional and civil rights."

The evening will include live music, a cocktail reception, sit-down dinner, commemorative program, silent and live auctions, and dancing.

For tickets and more information, visit the ACLU of Alaska.

Copyright © 2008 by Bent Alaska.