This Week in LGBT Alaska 7/31/09

This week's events from the statewide newsletter. Subscribe to Alaska GLBT News.


SEAGLA Social Fridays (6-8 p.m.) for GLBT people and our friends over 21, at The Imperial Bar, downtown.


BBQ to decorate the PFLAG Fair Booth 8/2, late afternoon, call 45-PFLAG for directions. The Tanana Valley State Fair is August 7-15 this year. Free admission for the day if you work a two-hour shift at the PFLAG booth. Fairbanks PFLAG.

Parks Hwy

Irina Rivkin's Denali concert 8/6, 10 p.m. at Panorama Pizza, Mile 224 Parks Highway on Carlo Creek.

Ever Ready at the Talkeetna Bluegrass Festival 8/7, 4-5 p.m. Mile 102 Parks Hwy, Talkeetna.

Mat-Su Valley

Mat-Su LGBT Community Center in Palmer is open M-F 5-8 p.m. (except 6-8 on Wed.) The social group meets Wednesdays, 5-6 p.m. at Vagabond Blues.


Side Street Saturdays, an informal meetup for LGBT writers, at noon in Side Street Cafe.

Yes @ Cuddy Park 8/1, 2 p.m.-1 a.m. Live Bands, DJs, Breakdancers, Outdoor Festival. Doors close at 11 p.m.

Sunday worship and monthly potluck with MCC Anchorage, 2 p.m.

Transgender Support Group, Sundays 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the GLCCA.

Anchorage Frontrunners, Tuesdays, 6 p.m.

Gayle's testimony: The Catch-22 of discrimination

"Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me." Night after night we are lumped together with murderers, drug addicts, liars, thieves and prostitutes, and told we will be judged like them. We have to sit here and listen to bias because we must wait our turn to testify. This in itself is a form of cruel and unusual punishment. We wait our turn because we believe our civil rights need to be guaranteed with this amendment.

Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people are largely an invisible minority. Many who have read scripture have said that they know people who are gay and lesbian and are invisibly patting themselves on the back for being nice to a gay person and for their "conditional" love. What they do not see is that they interact with us every day. We are your bankers, teachers, doctors, bus drivers, stylists, students, social workers, artists and sales people. The next time a stranger smiles or says "hi" on the street, or your life is made easier by someone doing a good job, ask yourself "Could they be gay?" How many times have you asked a nice young man if he "had a girlfriend?" If so, your hetero is showing. Instead, how about saying, "Is there anyone special in your life?" We live, eat, play, pray, and work invisibly; and we choose to reveal ourselves only to those we trust because rejection is painful.

You have asked for specific instances of discrimination, but that in itself is a Catch-22. Because there are no protections for GLBT people as a class, there are no agencies that can take their complaints of discrimination. Because there are no cases on file, it then follows that discrimination does not exist. That is the circuitous logic of Catch-22. The claim that these are "special rights" shows the degree to which GLBT people are seen as "so out of the ordinary" that their claim to ordinary rights seems special. Last assembly meeting, you believed Chief Huen when he said that his department needed the 12 hour posting for homeless camps as a tool for his department to use. Believe me when I say we need this amended ordinance as a tool for the protection of our civil rights.

You cannot appease those that oppose this ordinance with rewrites and exemptions. Therefore, I propose that you write the amended ordinance with language that protects the entire gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered community. And then vote "yes" to pass it.

And by the way, the woman who testified ahead of me (yesterday's post), in a week and a half we will celebrate our 32nd anniversary.

Julie's testimony: 5 Misconceptions about Ordinance 64

First of all, I want you to know that it has been extremely painful for the GLBT community to sit through these hearings being verbally assaulted and denigrated by the religious opponents of Ordinance 64.

You may have heard what I am about to say, but it bears repeating, to get us back to the original proposal.

Misconception #1: Our opponents claim they hate the behavior, not the person. This is the first of many misconceptions the opponents cling to about my community. They do not know us. I am a Lesbian, and it's not what I do, but who I am. My emotional, social, romantic and sexual energies are linked to women. If I were to be celibate for the rest of my life, I would still be a lesbian.

Misconception #2: That sexual orientation is a choice. Psychologists tell us that sexual orientation is formed very early in life, by complex factors of nature and nurture, and that there is little to no choice about it. Heterosexuality is a sexual orientation, but no one suggests that it is a choice.

Misconception #3: The "gay agenda." We do have an agenda -- to gain equal protection from discrimination and live healthy, happy lives.

Misconception #4: There are cures or treatments for homosexuality. Since homosexuality is not an illness or a disease, there is no need to talk about cures.

Misconception #5, the biggest misconception of all: Passing this ordinance will result in a loss of rights by those opposing it and will create special rights for the GLBT community. Neither of these premises is true. Discrimination is not a right nor a freedom, regardless of the beliefs from which it stems, so it's not something that can be taken away. The GLBT community would gain equal rights, not special rights.

I believe in freedom of speech (and being responsible for the abuse of that right),
religious freedom (but not forcing those beliefs on others),
and the separation of church and state, or city in this case.

The religious testimony has turned these hearings into a stage for judgment rather than a fight for civil rights. Let's get back to the basic issue here: the need for GLBTs to be in included in the anti-discrimination ordinance.

The testimony the first night of the hearings and thereafter from members of our community should have provided enough evidence to show the need for Ordinance 64, but if that isn't enough, have you been hearing the rhetoric and messages of our opponents?

I urge you to pass Ordinance 64 with language that protects the entire GLBT community. Thank you.

Pamela's testimony: Existing law does not protect

Pamela Kelley, attorney and UAA Justice Center Professor, prepared the following testimony on AO-64, which was first posted here. Her actual testimony varied from these notes to address a case that was applied incorrectly by an opponent. Kelley's explanation of that case (Oncale) is also worth reading and is posted HERE.

Thank you – Madame Chairman, members of the assembly, Mr. Mayor. My name is Pamela Kelley. I am a member of the Alaska bar, no longer practicing but now teaching undergraduates about the law. I live in Anchorage. I signed up, belatedly, to testify because I think the state of the existing law has been obscured during the public comment already taken.

Federal, state and local laws overlap in the area of equal rights in employment, public accommodations and commerce. The first inaccuracy I hear repeated in these chambers is the idea that existing law already provides the protections that the proposed ordinance would cover. It does not.

The Constitution's equal protection clauses, at the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, limit actions by the government – not private acts of discrimination. Nor are federal statutes helpful.

In Title 42 of the United States Code, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as amended reaches the area. Federal law here identifies those classes of persons against whom discrimination is illegal to include: race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, or disability. None of those terms – including "sex" as defined – reach lesbians, gays, bisexual and trans-gendered individuals. But that only sets the minimums. The state of Alaska law may reach additional classes. Upon examination, however, it's apparent that the Alaska Human Rights Act does not expand the classifications to cover this.

AS 18.80.220. protects against discrimination based on: race, religion, color, national origin, age, disability, sex, marital status, changes in marital status, pregnancy, or parenthood. Sexual orientation and gender identity are not identified as protected classes by state law, either.

The second category of comments that is legally inaccurate suggests the proposed ordinance confers special rights. One of two things might be going on here. Either some might be confusing the concept of non-discrimination with affirmative action. Or, some erroneously consider equal protection a kind of zero-sum game.

First: Discrimination occurs when one possessed of differences from another is rejected by that other, solely based on that difference. Only certain forms of discrimination are illegal under state, federal and local law. Same treatment as everyone else – despite differences – is the foundation of equal rights law.

Different, in fact preferential, treatment is what is at the basis of affirmative action. Affirmative action is a term used to describe programs and policies that provide preferences in benefits or contracting to a protected class to make up for historically discriminatory practices directed at that class. Obviously not the ordinance.

That leaves me with the "zero sum game" fallacy. There is no finite pool of rights to which equal protection applies. Our religious neighbors, in the free exercise of their religion, as a constitutional right, are not released from their obligations to comply with the law. The right of free exercise of religion does not prevent the law's application when the doctrine of a freely chosen religion suggests members violate public laws. The simple example is the prohibition against illegal drug use that continues to apply to a person even if her selected religion views such use as sacramental.

Equal protection laws are aspirational, in a way. I hope my home town aspires to accept all of its people for exactly who they are and will apply the law to them equally.

Thank you.

Tiffany's testimony: To protect each citizen

My name is Tiffany McClain, I'm a resident of downtown Anchorage, and a beneficiary of the civil rights movement that ultimately gave birth to laws to protect people of color, women, people with disabilities, and religious communities from discrimination in the public sphere and--in at least 108 cities across the country--also protect me from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. I'm here to urge Assembly members to vote Yes on a version of AO 64 that does not yield in its original purpose of protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations.

When I hear the arguments in opposition to AO 64, I can't help but be reminded that in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's 1954 decision in the case of Brown v. Board of Education, there was a huge outcry from white segregationists who invoked their interpretation of Christianity to rationalize their objection to school integration. They argued that the Supreme Court was forcing them to disobey the laws of God, who had--in their view--created the races as separate for a reason. School integration, they believed, would inevitably lead to intermarriage between the races, which violated God's plan for the universe. To them, integration was a sin.

I am very grateful--because otherwise I probably wouldn't be standing here today--that in the face of such arguments, those in charge of making and enforcing the law recognized that they had a responsibility to protect each and every citizen from discrimination and that while people and churches have a right to believe what they want, the exercise or invocation of religion is no excuse for discrimination in the public sphere--I mean public schools, housing, restaurants, and employment. And I sincerely hope that Assembly members will do the same by voting Yes to protect LGBT people from discrimination in these aspects of public life.

At the last hearing, Assemblymen Gutierrez asked a man testifying against AO 64 if this was a black-and-white issue, if one side had to lose in order for the other to win. I strongly disagreed with that man's answer in the affirmative. Our Constitution, our legal system, our government is all about compromise, about finding the right balance between protecting individual freedoms without allowing any group of people to run roughshod over the freedoms of another group. It hasn't always been easy, but if we want our democracy to survive it's a balancing act that we all have to commit to. There's nothing black-and-white about any of this and to suggest otherwise is just as extremist a view as those who, back in the 1950s, were so certain that integration would lead to the destruction of the white race. Take a look around--white people are still here. And I believe that if this law passes tomorrow or next month, or next year that 60 years from now there will still be churches and schools that choose to preach against homosexuality and they will be allowed to exist--and should be allowed to exist--because that's what our Constitution promises. But that promise can in no way be interpreted to mean that individuals should be denied equal access to employment, housing, education, and public accommodations just because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. That is all we're asking you and the mayor to recognize.

Thank you.

Kathy's testimony: There is indeed prejudice

In gratitude for the many speakers who testified in favor of the Anchorage equal rights ordinance, Bent Alaska is posting a Testimony series. May the wise words of our friends and neighbors heal us from the weeks of hate-filled hearings and give us strength to face the next stage of this political process.
Kathy's Testimony

I'm here to ask the Assembly to do 3 things:

First, end the hearing on AO#64. We have seen hundreds of people come forward already. You have listened to Bible readings, hymns, personal confessions, sermons, grandstanding, and copious examples of wild and "unique" logic. I have heard you accused of graft, being moral dictators, and denying parental rights. You've been threatened with everything from eternal damnation to losing your assembly seats. On what other matter of municipal business would you countenance all this?

I have watched you remain remarkably polite, attentive, and respectful in the face of this onslaught, not to mention striving to keep a straight face. You know how much work and aggravation this public hearing has brought to you. Think of the fortitude required of those of us who are the objects of so much stereotyping, vilification, and venom. I've heard these hearings described as 'municipally sanctioned gay-bashing.' Enough. You have done your duty; little new information is coming to light; we have suffered more than enough. Move to end these hearings.

Second, the parade of testifiers surely has established without a doubt that there is indeed prejudice against homosexuals in Anchorage. Some of you question whether that prejudice leads to any actual acts of discrimination. I'd like to remind you of at least two testimonies the first night of the hearings that brought forward very clear, very specific, verifiable instances of blatant discrimination. Some may find these instances easy to discount as anecdotal, or cite lack of evidence of discrimination in public records. I remind you that if these individuals approached our very own municipal Equal Rights office, they would be turned away because our ordinances do not protect them. If you do nothing else as a result of these hearings, at the very least I urge you to direct your Equal Rights Commission to begin to document claims and collect data on discrimination against LGBT individuals.

Third, it is very risky for members of the LGBT community to come forward to speak, not only at assembly meetings, but even to acknowledge their sexual orientation in daily circumstances. "So what," some people say, "my own heterosexual orientation is not a topic of discussion; homosexuals just want to flaunt their sexuality." But in fact heterosexuals speak freely of their families, friends, and activities. They can share pictures, tease a spouse in public, complain about a mate, bring spouses to company events, hold hands in public, etc., clearly showing evidence of their heterosexuality in the normal course of the day. That they can do so without worrying about an employer or landlord taking action against them for being heterosexual is an unconscious assumption on their part, a part of their normal right to freedom of speech, expression, and association. LGBT people cannot take these rights for granted. Many find their safety, job security, and very survival depends on keeping their sexual orientation hidden, themselves hidden and silenced. I would challenge any heterosexual person present to live with such restriction and not find it a violation of inalienable civil rights. I urge you, Assembly members, to support this ordinance to bring EQUIVALENT civil rights to all citizens of Anchorage.

Gold, Fur & Feathers for Coronation 2009

The Imperial Court of All Alaska requests the Honor of Your Presence at CORONATION XXXVII - "GOLD, FUR, AND FEATHERS" CELEBRATING 50 YEARS OF STATEHOOD, Sept. 3-7, 2009.

Enjoy Labor Day weekend with the Imperial Court: two shows, a bus run, a glacier tour, a victory brunch, the Rotten Family Reunion, plus the big night of Coronation itself in the Sheraton Ballroom!

Schedule, Tickets & Program Ads
The Coronation schedule is posted on the Imperial Court's Coronation page and tickets can be purchased online. The two shows and most of the other town events will be held in Mad Myrna's showroom. Sponsorship Ads for the Coronation Ball Program are a great way to advertise your business inexpensively, not to mention raising money for one of the Court's greatest programs, the Scholarship fund. Share your business with hundreds of people. Ads must be received and paid in full by August 7. For more information, visit the The Imperial Court of All Alaska.

Pride Conference seeks committee members

It's time to start planning for the annual Pride Conference in Anchorage! The Conference is sponsored by Identity and held in October on the weekend nearest to October 11, National Coming Out Day.

Johnathan Jones and Jasmine Stokes are the Pride Conference co-chairs for 2009, and they are looking for volunteers for the planning committee. "You do not need experience to help out, but any skills, connections & resources you have are welcome," writes Jasmine.

If you're interested, please contact Jones or contact Stokes. The first conference meeting is Thursday, July 30, at 6:30 p.m. in the Gay & Lesbian Community Center of Anchorage (GLCCA) on 5th Ave.

This Week in LGBT Alaska 7/24/09

This week's events from the statewide newsletter. Subscribe to Alaska GLBT News.
Join the ACT for Health Care Reform rally on the Park Strip, Saturday in Anchorage. The local organizers haven't heard about the LGBT provisions that were added to the national Health Care Reform bill last week, so this is your chance to educate them about our health care needs.

Sunday is Sarah Palin's last day as Governor of Alaska and people all over the state are celebrating with Quitting Parties. Also on Sunday is a memorial service for progressive ally Allan Tesche, at the Central Lutheran Church on 15th and Cordova, in Anchorage.


Irina Rivkin performs in McCarthy on 7/25, 8 p.m. at BMAC's, and on 7/27, 6:30 p.m. at Wrangell Mountain Center & Hardware store, playing a concert plus audience-participation live-looping jam, $5-15 sliding scale donation. See her current tour schedule here.


SEAGLA Social Fridays (6-8 p.m.) for GLBT people and our friends over 21, at The Imperial Bar, downtown.


March with PFLAG and carry the Key West Pride Flag in the Golden Days Parade, 7/25. Meet in the Carlson Center parking lot by 9:30 a.m. in space 36. Post-parade Picnic at Nussbaumer Park from 2-6 p.m.

Women's Motorcycle Ride Saturday, 7/25 meets in the Regal/Goldstream Theater parking lot at 4 p.m.

Mat-Su Valley

Mat-Su LGBT Community Center in Palmer is open M-F 5-8 p.m. (except 6-8 on Wed.) The social group meets Wednesdays, 5-6 p.m. at Vagabond Blues.


Lesbian Film Group & Potluck 7/24, 6 p.m. See The Anchorage LGBT Meetup Group for details.

The Diva's Variety Show Fridays, 9 p.m. at Mad Myrna's.

Adult Comedy Hypnosis Show with Jay Her, Saturday 7/25, 9 p.m. $10 at Mad Myrna's. Tickets available online here.

Mad Mike @ Mad Myrna's spinning Electro, House & Trance, Saturdays 11 p.m.-2:30 p.m. with Special Guest DJ's.

Sunday worship with MCC Anchorage 7/26, 2 p.m.

The Last Frontier Men's Club Annual Meeting and Election 7/26, 6 p.m. Mad Myrna's.

Transgender Support Group, Sundays 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the GLCCA.

Self-Healing & Compassionate Communication Workshop for LGBT Community & Allies 7/27, 6-8:30 p.m. 1057 W. Fireweed, Suite 102 (Four A's Building), United Way Conference Room. Please pre-register if possible.

Anchorage Frontrunners, Tuesdays, 6 p.m.

Irina's tour, Frank's podcast, LGBT Bowling, ATE thanks Senators, Newsletter seeks Helper

Gay AK - Notes from LGBT Alaska

Ordinance Update
A new version of the equal rights ordinance was released today. Check it out, ask Mayor Sullivan to support it, and write a supportive letter to the ADN. Then come to Loussac Library on August 11 for the Assembly debate and possible vote.

LGBT News seeks Co-editor
Alaska GLBT News, the statewide weekly email newsletter, is looking for one or two people to help collect events and news from the local LGBT web sites for posting in the newsletter. Email Alaska GLBT News to volunteer.

Alaskans Together on passage of Matthew Shepard Act
"Alaskans Together for Equality is grateful to our Alaska Senators Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich for voting in support of the Matthew Sheppard Hate Crimes Prevention Act," writes ATE spokesperson Tim Stallard. "Many Alaskans called in to both Senators' offices to request this support, which resulted in Senator Begich becoming a co-sponsor of the bill. This act will help enable gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered Americans to live happy, productive lives without fear of violence."

Northern Exposure Bowling League
Northern Exposure, the gay and lesbian bowling league in Anchorage, is getting ready to start the 2009/2010 bowling season. We will have our first league meeting on Saturday, August 29, 4 p.m. at Park Lanes, and we'll cover signup, registration and league setup. Our first day of bowling is the first Sunday after Coronation, Sept 13, and we will bowl every Sunday after that, barring holidays and League tournaments. For more info, email Stephen.

5 minute Frank
Frank Tano, formerly of Anchorage, makes a podcast called 5 minute Frank. "He frequently mentions Alaska and Alaskans," writes Lisa. "It's stream of consciousness, out gay humor. Very Frank. Listen to the later ones." Listen to 5 Minute Frank here or use the iTunes link on Frank's myspace page.

Irina Rivkin tours Alaska
OutMusic Awardee live-looping folk-world-harmony artist (and out lesbian) Irina Rivkin is on tour in Alaska. She is available for back-yard concerts, house concerts, festivals, summer camps, & live-looping workshops. (Contact Rose Street booking.) Listen to her music here and here (includes live concert video).

Irina's Alaska tour dates so far:
7/25/2009, 8pm, McCarthy, playing a birthday party at BMAC's.
7/27/2009, 6:30pm, McCarthy, Wrangell Mountain Center & Hardware store, concert plus audience-participation live-looping jam $5-15 sliding scale donation.
8/01/2009, 8pm, Fairbanks, House Concert, 1202 Heath Ave.
8/06/2009, 10pm, Denali, Panorama Pizza, Mile 224 Parks Highway on Carlo Creek.
8/8 or 8/7 – seeking concert in or near Denali or Talkeetna.
8/10/2009, 8pm, Anchorage, Tap Root Café, 1330 E Huffman (btwn Old and New Seward, across from Wells Fargo, look for the prayer flags.)
8/9 or 8/11, Anchorage area (Palmer to Girdwood) concert TBA.

Public Testimony Closed on Anchorage Equal Rights Ordinance

The Anchorage Assembly voted to end testimony on the equal rights ordinance at 11:15 p.m. Tuesday night, after everyone on the speakers list either testified or failed to respond when their name was called. The Assembly has held 6 public hearings on the ordinance since it was proposed on May 12, and over 600 people signed up to testify.

On August 11, Assembly members will debate the ordinance without public input, and will vote on the ordinance when the debate ends, possibly on the same night.

Please write a letter to Mayor Sullivan and the ADN in support of the ordinance, and plan to attend the Assembly meeting on August 11.

Tuesday's testimony represented a mix of arguments for and against the ordinance. Many opponents spent three minutes displaying their ignorance and fear of homosexuals, sometimes in pornographic detail, then said they were not homophobic.

Supporters spoke of families and friends, discrimination and inequality, history and progress. Chrissy said, "I, like the majority of Anchorage heterosexuals, support this ordinance." The tolerant majority has spoken.

Bent Alaska would like to thank the many brave supporters who testified during the weeks of hearings, as well as those who attended the hearings and wrote about the ordinance. Your words give us hope and your attendance shows that this is a community effort.

To share that hope, several of the ordinance testimonies will be posted on the blog, along with letters to the Mayor and the newspaper. If you want your letter posted, please send it to Bent Alaska.

Ordinance Hearing #6 on Tuesday, July 21

We need YOU at the public hearing on Tuesday to show Assembly members that people in our town want lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Alaskans to be protected from discrimination. If you haven't already testified, now is the time to sign up. Don't let opponents of equality have the last word!

The hearings are at Loussac Library (36th & Denali) in the Assembly Chambers on the 1st Floor. The meetings run from 5-11 p.m, but the Assembly does other business first and gets to the equal rights ordinance around 6 or later.

Wear blue—the color of peace and unity—and your Equality Works button.

Beware false information
At the last hearing on July 7, one of the security guards told people dressed in blue that the ordinance had already gone to a public vote and there was no reason for us to be there. This is false - the Assembly has not voted on the ordinance yet and is allowing more people to sign up and give testimony. As a security guard on duty at the Assembly meeting, it was unprofessional of him to give false information on the ordinance and try to limit our freedom of speech at a public hearing. Do not be deceived by wrong information about the ordinance and hearings, even if it comes from a library or Assembly employee.

Words of encouragement from our allies
Our allies on Alaska Commons and the pro-ordinance site SOS Anchorage.NET have written thoughtful and inspiring new posts for this hearing. Heather explains why she, a straight woman, is fighting for the rights of her friends and the community of Anchorage. She describes how she became involved in gay issues, and why she is involved this time:
I and they know that this ordinance won't make hatred and discrimination go away, but it will give them somewhere to turn when they are harassed because of who they are. I will stand and fight with them, and with you, to make this community the place that it should be.

He [Jerry Prevo] has built his career out of hatred, and I am not willing to let him win this time. He is a pitiable man and a bully, but he does not dictate the behavior of the Anchorage community.
John reports on the hearings and why the ordinance is important for the future of Alaska:
I've heard and learned a staggering amount during these hearings. Some words have left me in absolute awe of the intelligence, bravery, and perseverance on display. Other words are harder to drink away.

For now, the fate of Ordinance 64 rests with the Assembly. We need to keep showing up, and keep reminding the Assembly that we won't go away.

Hate, in no way, results in the betterment of a society. And we are foolish if we pretend that Anchorage is somehow immune.
Visit their blogs to read the posts, plus transcripts from the hearings and guest posts by Tonei Glavinic. They will live-blog today's hearing, as will other local bloggers. Bent Alaska will add updates from the hearing on the Facebook wall and below this post.

If you are in Anchorage, please join us at the equal rights ordinance hearing, Tuesday at Loussac Library. Wear blue!

This Week in LGBT Alaska 7/17/09

** The next Anchorage ordinance hearing is Tuesday, July 21 at Loussac Library. **

This week's events from the statewide newsletter. Subscribe to Alaska GLBT News.


SEAGLA Social Fridays (6-8 p.m.) for GLBT people and our friends over 21, at The Imperial Bar, downtown.


Women's Motorcycle Ride Saturday, 7/18 meets in the Regal/Goldstream Theater parking lot at 4 p.m.

Mat-Su Valley

Mat-Su LGBT Community Center in Palmer is open M-F 5-8 p.m. (except 6-8 on Wed.) The social group meets Wednesdays, 5-6 p.m. at Vagabond Blues.


Midnight Soapscum: Goes to Hell! Final Episode, 7/17-7/18, 10:30 p.m. Out North Tickets $15 online or at the door. Saturday's show follows The Big Fat Gay Wedding (see below.)

Integrity (Episcopal GLBT group) monthly potluck, fellowship and worship 7/17, 6:30 p.m. at St. Mary's Episcopal Church, Lake Otis & Tudor.

Gay-Karting with Adam & Steve 7/18, 2 p.m. RSVP required.

Barony of Spenard 7/18, 7:16 p.m. at Mad Myrna's $5. Best in Theme Contest & Auction.

The Big Fat Gay Wedding 7/18, 7 p.m. Out North. Unions blessed & vows renewed.

Mad Mike @ Mad Myrna's 7/18, (Saturdays) 10 p.m.-2:30 p.m. with Special Guest DJ's.

LGBT & Supporters Community Potluck at Goose Lake Picnic Shelter 7/19, 1 p.m.

Sunday worship with MCC Anchorage 7/19, 2 p.m.

Transgender Support Group, Sundays 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the GLCCA.

Anchorage Frontrunners, Tuesdays, 6 p.m.

Anchorage Equal Rights Ordinance Hearing 7/21, 5-11 p.m. Loussac Library. Equality Works.

Hate Crimes Passed, Inclusive Episcopals, Eagle River, Top 4 & Better Communication

Gay AK - Notes from LGBT Alaska

BREAKING: Hate Crimes Amendment Passes
The US Senate voted 63-28 Thursday night to include the Hate Crimes Act as an amendment to the must-pass defense spending bill. The added measure will "provide Federal assistance to States, local jurisdictions, and Indian tribes to prosecute hate crimes, and for other purposes." Both Begich and Murkowski voted in favor, and Begich is a co-sponsor of the original bill. The House passed a stand-alone hate crimes act in April, and President Obama supports it.

Episcopal Church passes LGBT measure co-authored by Alaskan
The Episcopal Church Convention approved two gay-positive resolutions: to open the ordination process to all individuals (D025), and to start the process of developing rites for blessing same-sex marriages (C056). Resolution D025 is a response to the restraint passed in 2006 on the election of gay and lesbian bishops in committed same-sex relationships. In the vote by orders, D025 passed the lay and clergy orders in the Diocese of AK, but not without dissent. Rebecca Snow, senior lay deputy from Alaska, co-authored the original version of D025 and was interviewed before the vote. Mary Ellen Harris, an alternate delegate member, describes the day the Convention passed D025 on the Alaska delegation's blog. The national Integrity (LGBT Episcopal) blog has a news roundup on both measures.

Eagle River/Chugiak Ordinance meeting
We believe that the LGBT community has more support for the equal rights ordinance in Eagle River/Chugiak than most people assume, but we need your help to make sure that the voices of those who support equality are heard. Please join us for an organizing and strategizing meeting in the community room of Jitters Coffee House in Eagle River, 11401 Old Glenn Hwy, on Thursday, July 23, at 6:00 pm and help us create and execute an action plan to let Debbie Ossiander know that she has constituents who support LGBT equality. Invite supportive friends, neighbors, and family members to attend this meeting and learn how they can get involved. Thank you. Equality Works.

Top 4 on Bent Alaska
A big "thank you" to everyone who contributed writing, quotes, links and/or photos for these popular recent articles on Bent Alaska: Sarah Palin's Top 10 Anti-LGBT Moments, Alaskan Celebrates Gay Pride in India (picked up by the ADN newsreader), Palin and Gays Make the Queerest July 4th Ever, and the top post of the month Kelly's Story: A Transgender Christian Woman.

Self-Healing & Compassionate Communication Workshop
Are you in need of healing after the marathon of public hearings that have taken place this summer? Are you looking for effective ways to speak and hear compassionately in difficult circumstances? An evening introduction to Nonviolent Communication (NVC) offers practical tools that help you to generate empathy for self and others, identify what's at the heart of people's behaviors, and create simple, profound shifts in awareness and speaking habits. NVC can be used in any kind of interpersonal interaction. Interactive learning invites participants to use their own real-life situations to experience the NVC process. Facilitated by NVC practitioner and teacher Louise Baquero Deerfield. The LGBT Workshop is Monday, July 27, 6:00-8:30 pm, 1057 W. Fireweed, Suite 102, United Way Conference Room. Please pre-register if possible. E-mail: Tiffany McClain.

Sarah Palin's Top 10 Anti-LGBT Moments

Is it too early to list Sarah Palin's worst moments as Governor of Alaska? doesn't think so. Their Gay Rights blog posted a list of her anti-LGBT moments the day after she resigned, although she had (and still has) a few more weeks as Gov.

The introduction to the list suggests that Palin is divorcing Alaska despite her support for traditional marriage, describing her as
"a politician who thinks that the commitment between a man and a woman is sacred above anything, but the commitment between a governor and a state's population is disposable."
Ouch.'s Michael Jones made a good list of 6 Palin anti-LGBT moments, but missed a few big ones. Here are Bent's 4 additions, rounding out a full Top 10 List:

Signed $1.2 million Advisory Vote bill: Palin's most harmful anti-LGBT moment, and one of her first acts as governor, was signing HB 4002, the statewide advisory vote on taking away same-sex partner benefits, at a cost of $1.2 million for the state and in opposition to a state Supreme Court ruling. That signature led to 3 months of anti-gay speech and a pitched battle to defend the benefits that had protected some families for 5 years (City of Juneau) and others for 10 years (University of Alaska.) The result of the non-binding vote was much closer than expected, and the failure to get a 'mandate of hate' stalled the move for a statewide benefits ban, which Palin advocated.

Censorship: As Mayor of Wasilla, Palin supported a religious group that pushed to remove copies of Pastor, I am Gay, by Mat-Su resident Rev. Howard Bess, from the Public Library. She used removal of the gay book as an employee litmus test, and fired a library director who said she would not remove the book unless it met the library policy guidelines for removal.

No Pride Month: Palin's most recent anti-LGBT moment was refusing to acknowledge Anchorage PrideFest's Gay Pride Month proclamation, although President Obama declared June 2009 as LGBT Pride Month in the United States.

Defended Carrie Prejean: In May, Palin stated her support for the now-ex-Miss California Carrie Prejean, who declared her opposition to same-sex marriage and became a poster girl for the anti-gay lobby.

National Coming Out Day Stay in the Closet Day: Despite being urged by civil rights groups like Alaskans Together to officially recognize National Coming Out Day, Governor Sarah Palin refused to acknowledge a day that fosters acceptance of LGBT people. Sure, during her time as Governor she made official proclamations to recognize "Alaska Taiwan Friendship Week," "Christian Heritage Week," and "Biomedical Technician Week," but giving the gays one day where tolerance and understanding are the norm was a bit too much for the Alaska Governor.

Support of Ex-Gay Ministries?: Sarah Palin's hometown church in Wasilla actively promoted the ex-gay ministry "Love Won Out" by posting their ads in weekly church bulletins. These ex-gay therapy groups have been roundly criticized by science, religious leaders and politicians of all stripes, but nonetheless, Palin's own church seemed to preach that homosexuality could be overcome.

Alaska and Traditional Marriage: Though she was just a few years removed from the Bachelor's Degree that took her seven years and four colleges to get, Sarah Palin was a strong proponent of Alaska's 1998 statewide constitutional amendment which banned same-sex marriage. Additionally, Palin told the Anchorage News in 2005 that she supported repealing many domestic partner benefits given to same-sex couples in Alaska, because DP benefits were anti-family.

The Three Amigos - Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, and Phyllis Schlafly: They're three of the most anti-LGBT people in the country, and the connection? Michelle Bachmann (who has called global warming a "hoax" and "voodoo," and said that God is blessing the Iraq War) stepped in for Sarah Palin during a anti-choice award ceremony at the Republican National Convention this year. Phyllis Schlafly, the denmother of radical conservatives 'round the country, said that McCain's selection of Palin as a running mate was "terribly smart," at the time. Hmm...wonder what she was saying on November 5, 2008?

Let's Define Marriage Federally: In a break with her running mate John McCain, Palin told the Christian Broadcasting Network in October 2008 that she wished the federal government would follow the lead of states like Alaska and work to ban same-sex marriage. Because fighting two wars and solving an economic crisis deserves to be side-stepped by knocking down marriage equality.....

A "Perversion and Degenerates" Ally: In March of this year, Sarah Palin had the task of choosing an Attorney General for Alaska. Her preferred candidate? Wayne Anthony Ross, a radical right-wing lawyer who has referred to LGBT people as "perverts," "degenerates," and "immoral." Ross also had a resume filled with other star attributes, like defending a KKK art project, and representing nutjobs that harass anti-war protestors.

These are her worst anti-LGBT moments, but let's broaden the question: What is on your Top 10 list for the Worst Palin Moments Ever?

Out in Alaska featured in Gay Travel Magazine

Passports Magazine: The Insider's Guide to Gay Travel posted an interview with local guide Tim Stallard, owner of Out in Alaska, an adventure tour company catering to GLBT travelers. The article also lists gay-friendly lodges, restaurants and B&B's in Alaska.
"Tim Stallard believes that the best way to experience our 49th state is to get out and enjoy the wilderness," reads the introduction to the online story. "His company, Out in Alaska, makes sure you do just that."
Out in Alaska takes small groups of LGBT travelers and open-minded friends all over Alaska, often visiting Seward and Denali in addition to Anchorage and Fairbanks. They organize adventure travel, comfortable land tours, small boat cruises, and custom options like romantic remote lodge trips and corporate retreats, and have a full line-up of exciting trips for summer and fall 2009.
Passports: "Why did you choose to cater to LGBT travelers?"
Stallard: "Because LGBT travelers have a reputation for being avid, adventurous, and discerning travelers. However, straight travelers (especially Europeans) have gay travelers beat for recognizing Alaska as a world-class destination. No one was serving the gay market for real travel experiences in Alaska so I saw an opportunity to do that. Also, many gay people love nature and animals, but a majority of gay people live in highly urbanized cities, so gay Alaskan adventures seemed the obvious antidote! As I later realized, operating a gay travel business in Alaska also allows us to promote equal rights for gay Alaskans through our business networking and supplier connections."
In addition to being an explorer, adventure guide and Fairbanks-based business owner, Tim is the Vice President of Alaskans Together for Equality, a group dedicated to achieving full civil equality for all Alaskans.

Read the Passports article, and check out Bent Alaska's Travel Resource page for more LGBT Alaska travel-related businesses.

Golden Days, MPower, IAA, Irina Rivkin & Coronation

Gay AK - Notes from LGBT Alaska 7/11/09

PFLAG in the Golden Days Parade
Fairbanks PFLAG invites the LGBTA community to walk together in the Golden Days Grand Parade on July 25, starting at the Carlson Center and carrying the large rainbow flag from Key West. Let's show Fairbanks our pride! PFLAG will also have a booth at the Tanana Valley State Fair in August.

Adam & Steve seeks Program Assistant
Adam N Steve, an Mpowerment Program in Anchorage, is seeking a Program Assistant to help coordinate a multi-level intervention HIV prevention program aimed at men who have sex with men, with an emphasis on community building and empowerment activities among gay and bisexual men ages 18-29. Read the job description and email Alex Barros, Director of Prevention at The Four A's in Anchorage.

Interior AIDS (IAA) Raffle
Enter the Raffle to support Interior AIDS Association, drawing on August 8, 2009. Only 250 tickets sold, $100 each, with a grand prize of $11,000 and other prizes.

Irina Rivkin returns to Alaska
World-folk live-looping harmony singer-songwriter Irina Rivkin will be back on tour in Alaska July 23-August 11 with new songs. If you would like to host or produce a concert (including a house concert or yard concert) or a live-looping workshop in Anchorage, Fairbanks or elsewhere, please contact Irina.

Coronation Schedule & Program Ads
The Imperial Court of All Alaska requests the Honor of Your Presence at CORONATION XXXVII - "GOLD, FUR, AND FEATHERS" CELEBRATING 50 YEARS OF STATEHOOD, on Sept. 3-7, 2009. The preliminary schedule is posted. Share your business with hundreds of people! Sponsorship Ads for this year's Coronation Ball program are a great way to advertise your business and support the Scholarship fund. Ads must be received (in JPG or PDF and "camera ready") and paid in full by August 7. The Imperial Court.

This Week in LGBT Alaska 7/10/09

This week's events from the statewide newsletter. Subscribe to Alaska GLBT News.


SEAGLA Social Fridays (6-8 p.m.) for GLBT people and our friends over 21, at The Imperial Bar, downtown.

RFamily Vacations cruise visits Juneau aboard the MV Norweigan Star, Tuesday 7/14 from 7 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. SEAGLA


PFLAG Fairbanks meeting, Sunday 7/12, 4 p.m.

Women's Motorcycle Ride Night, Thursdays, 6 p.m. meets in the Regal/Goldstream Theater parking lot.


"Hedwig and the Angry Inch" performed live at the Down East Saloon, Mon-Wed 7/13-7/15, at 8 p.m. Tickets $15 at the Homer Bookstore and Kachemak Bay Family Planning Clinic. Show is a benefit for KBFC.

Mat-Su Valley

Mat-Su LGBT Community Center in Palmer is open M-F 5-8 p.m. (except 6-8 on Wed.) The social group meets Wednesdays, 5-6 p.m. at Vagabond Blues.


Lesbian Film Group Night 7/10, 6 p.m. potluck and socializing, 7 p.m. movie. 2nd & 4th Fridays. An Anchorage LGBT Meetup Group event.

Ever Ready in Eagle River playing at the Bear Paw Festival 7/10, 8-10 p.m.

Midnight Soapscum: Goes to Hell! Episode #4, 7/10-7/11, 10:30 p.m. Out North Tickets $15 online or at the door.

Bac'untry Bruthers All-Night dRAGTIME Revue opening for the Dead Milkmen at the Brown Bear in Indian, along Turnagain Arm 7/11, 8 p.m.

Sunday worship and monthly potluck with MCC Anchorage 7/12, 2 p.m.

Transgender Support Group, Sundays 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the GLCCA.

Anchorage Frontrunners, Tuesdays, 6 p.m.

Poetry Parley: works by Walt Whitman, plus local poet Joshua Garcia 7/15, 7 p.m. Free admission, and cake for Poetry Parley's one-year anniversary. Out North

The PFLAG Anchorage & Identity, Inc. annual picnic at Valley of the Moon Park 7/16.

Alaskan Celebrates Gay Pride in India on Historic Ruling

India overturned its ban on gay sex last week, and Ryan from Juneau, Alaska was there to celebrate in Bangalore's Gay Pride Parade.

The High Court in New Delhi ruled that gay sex between consenting adults is no longer a crime, overturning the 1860 anti-sodomy law, known as Section 377. "Moral indignation, howsoever strong, is not a valid basis for overriding individuals' fundamental rights of dignity and privacy."

Ryan is traveling in India and studying at the Visthar Center near Bangalore. In the post Welcome to Bangalore & the South India Artist Intensive, Ryan described the theater and dance workshops and his adventures in the city, then wrote about gay life in India and the historic court ruling:
Finally, it's been a surprisingly eventful week in sexual politics in India. Last Sunday I found myself marching in Bangalore's gay pride parade, which is a scenario I never would have envisioned. It certainly was no New York or Amsterdam pride, but it beat out Juneau's gay pride parade—which consists of me walking down Franklin Street to get a cup of coffee. There were several hundred people and drumming and shouting—lots of people wearing masks, though, for the sake of anonymity in photo or video. That very day, the Indian High Court was reviewing section 377, which is the law used against gay people in this country (though it doesn't refer to homosexuals verbatim). Thursday, the law was amended! Huge news. What this basically means, as someone at Visthar put it, is that homosexual lifestyles are now 'recognized as non-crimes.' Still not equal rights, but at least not outright discrimination. …Now this weekend, there have been counter-protests and demonstrations in some cities, some apparently violent.

It will be interesting to see how this continues to unfold here. I would at least venture to say that from what I've seen, the divide between rural and urban here, 'liberal' and 'conservative,' seems to be HUGE. As part of our cultural context class this week, we had a session discussing sexual minorities, and Visthar invited 2 gay men and 2 lesbian women to speak. It was incredible to me that all 4 of them—none of whom could have been older than 40—had attempted suicide due to their sexuality-combined-with-social/family-situation. Two had had their partners die in double-suicide attempts that they themselves had survived. It does seem that the situation here is behind the US by a few years or decades.
Check out his photos of India, and follow Ryan's future adventures by subscribing to his blog Forging Ahead.

- hat tip to Maia of Own The Sidewalk

Copyright © 2008 by Bent Alaska.