Ossiander Bristles at Imperial Court Award

The scene was too familiar: people entered the Assembly Chambers a few at a time on Tuesday evening, looked around and chose seats. One man wore a bright red shirt. But the ordinance hearings were over, the equal rights ordinance passed 7-4 then was vetoed by the new mayor who sat at the end of the curved Assembly table. There was one more loose end to tie, one more thank you to the Assembly members who stood for equality and fairness. One more award to present. The Imperial Court honored them with the Raymond Jorgenson Memorial Award at Coronation and were here to present it in person.

But first, the mayor wanted to speak. He thanked everyone at the Assembly meeting for attending his "Unity" Dinner. He mentioned the keynote speaker (GOP-fundraiser Lynn Swann), the number of people attending (400), and that the money raised from the dinner will support "diversity events" all year. He did not mention the amount of money raised or what diversity events would be sponsored by the city.

The moment was awkward only partly because a quarter of the people in the room represented a gay organization and recently endured a summer of hearings on an equal rights ordinance that the mayor vetoed right before the start of his Diversity Month. He may not have known they were there, but he certainly knew that several of the Assembly members attended the sold-out True Diversity Dinner instead of his union-picket-line-crossing "unity" night.

There was more business, then Assembly member Elvi Gray-Jackson donated her personal comment time so The Imperial Court could present the award to the seven Assembly members who voted "yes" on the ordinance. The Court announced the award winners at Coronation during Labor Day weekend, along with their other annual awards and scholarships. Gray-Jackson said that the last Assembly meeting of Diversity Month was an appropriate time for them to present this award...

...but Assembly Chair Debbie Ossiander interrupted, saying that it should have been presented at the Diversity Dinner (although the Court did not organize the dinner) and she had already rejected their request for time. Gray-Jackson persisted that it was her time, and Grady Frank Jenkins presented the award on behalf of the Imperial Court of All Alaska.

Now, aside from Ossiander's negative tone toward a community group that was trying to give Assembly members an award, she didn't even bother to know which group was presenting the award before she objected. It's as if she thinks there could only be one gay group in Anchorage and they must be responsible for all gay-related awards and events - including the Diversity Dinner, which was organized by a heterosexual couple who have never been involved with the Imperial Court. It's not like the names "True Diversity Dinner" and "Imperial Court of All Alaska" could be easily confused. It was a "they all look the same to me" moment.

Or maybe she's upset because Anchorage Baptist Temple hasn't given her an award for being the deciding vote against the override.

Grady kept cool under pressure and made his statement to the Assembly:

"This award is from The Imperial Court of All Alaska, the largest and oldest gay and lesbian organization in Alaska and one of the oldest in the nation. We wanted to thank you all for your courage in dealing with Ordinance 64 this past summer. It was very difficult and we appreciate the time that you all took. By unanimous vote, our organization, at our Coronation Ball which occurred three weeks ago, voted to present a plaque to the seven members of the Assembly that chose to vote "yes" on Ordinance 64. This is named our Raymond Jorgenson Memorial Award and we present it to Patrick Flynn, Elvi Gray-Jackson, Matt Claman, Jennifer Johnston, Sheila Selkregg, Mike Gutierrez, and Harriet Drummond. We appreciate the time that all of you took on this ordinance this year. Thank you."

And immediately, Ossiander jumped in, "Thank you. Moving on," and had to pause for the clapping before saying, "the next order of business..."

Grady gave the awards to Claman and Gray-Jackson, who read them, smiled, and passed them down the table to their colleagues. The Assembly members moved on to other business and the Imperial Court members left the room.

But that wasn't the end of Diversity Month for the Assembly. Anthony Wilkerson planned to address the Assembly on Workplace Discrimination issues during the public comment period. Tony is the Alaska State Coordinator for the national Workplace Bullying Institute, and he was also disappointed in the mayor's veto of the ordinance:

"It's unfortunate that the Anchorage Mayor vetoed this measure to guarantee equal rights for all, but this should not stop those that have fought thus far... I will be addressing the Anchorage Assembly in regards to discrimination and harassment that is currently not protected by Federal Laws. I would ask that you come in support, and help make Anchorage safe for all to work; free from discrimination and harassment, thus making Anchorage safe for all to pursue the American dream of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

I left before Wilkerson's address, but I wonder if Ossiander objected to him as well. Just another one of those darn diversity people.

No Unity Without Equality: A Diversity Dinner to Remember

At the True Diversity Dinner, the progressive community of Anchorage celebrated diversity and equality with a dynamic mix of Native Alaskan culture, democratic politics and gay civil rights.

When Mayor Sullivan vetoed the equal rights ordinance two weeks before the start of his Diversity Month and changed the name of the main event from the Diversity Dinner to the "Unity" Dinner, John and Heather Aronno (of Alaska Commons and the good version of SOS.Anchorage) and a few people they met during the ordinance hearings discussed an event to protest the mayor's lack of appreciation for diversity. After a few hectic weeks of planning, the result was the True Diversity Dinner, a celebration instead of a protest.

Here's a run-down of the evening's planned, unplanned and many inspiring moments:

The Native dance troupe Masingka set the tone of the evening with their stories and songs of life in Alaska, while the guests ate delicious food from the Snow Goose buffet tables.

Assembly member Elvi Gray-Jackson, looking regal and towering above the crowd in her heels, was the first to say the line that echoed throughout the evening: equality is for e-v-e-r-y-o-n-e (she spelled it out.)

Diane Benson gave an impassioned speech about stopping the abuse of women, children and Native Alaskans.

Steven Alvarez performed his rousing song "See What Love Can Do" with backup by the doo-wop girls, his daughter Sarah and friend Shelly.

Reverend Marquita Pierre, of the Alaska Center for Spiritual Living, kicked butt. (Can I say that about a preacher?) She spoke about being treated differently based on the color of her skin, and how we treat people as "other" based on many kinds of differences, including sexual orientation. She said, "There can be no unity without fairness; there can be no unity without equality" which is the quote I used for the title of this post. Then she called for us to move to a better place regarding diversity - not tolerance (we can tolerate bad things) or acceptance (things that are only OK) which value people despite our diversity, but we can learn appreciation, for the gifts we each offer our family and community, because of our diversity.

Keynote speaker Shannyn Moore was next, but Daphne Do'all LaChores, a local icon in full drag, got on stage with Shannyn and ranted about the mayor's veto. She dissed Shannyn's shoes, plugged the Diva Show at Mad Myrna's, and announced that she was heading down the street to crash the "unity" dinner. She ruffled a few feathers but added a good dose of humor and reality - many in the queer community are still angry about the veto and think it's odd to throw a party when we don't have any rights or protections to celebrate.

Then Shannyn spoke and disagreed with Daphne about the veto being a slap to the GLBT community, saying that it hurt everyone, including the straight allies who withstood the "summer of hate." Shannyn was the keynote for this Diversity Dinner, where most of the organizers, speakers, performers, and politicians were straight allies. Gay rights and gay people were visible and acknowledged (a rare thing at an Alaska political event), but the focus of the event was to recognize and thank the allies who continue to work for an equality that includes us, and to strengthen those alliances.

After the speakers and performers, the diversity awards were presented.

Excellence in Business - Cook Inlet Region, Inc (CIRI)
Eric Cordero, a Mat-Su school board member, noted the celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month and read a statement from CIRI accepting the Excellence in Business Award. CIRI is a Native Alaskan corporation that 'walked the talk' about equality this summer: they were the only large company (of the many that have protections against anti-gay discrimination) that wrote a public letter to the mayor in support of the equal rights ordinance (posted HERE.)

Excellence in Non-Profit - Identity, Inc.
Scott Turner and Steph Gingrich, two Identity board members, accepted the non-profit award from Heather. Identity runs the Gay & Lesbian Community Center, organizes PrideFest in June and the Pride Conference in Oct. (see HERE for the upcoming conference), supports the gay-straight alliances, sends the Advocacy Team to educate groups throughout the city, shares funds with other gay groups and publishes the NorthView.

Excellence in Print Media - Julia O'Malley
Bob Poe, candidate for governor, spoke about his essay (posted HERE) on how gay rights is not just the right thing to do but is also good for the economy, then announced the print media award. Julia was not able to attend, so her mother, Assembly member Sheila Selkregg, accepted it for her. She was proud of Julia and spoke about the women in her family and their commitment to civil rights. She reminded us that standing up for civil rights can have consequences, that some politicians (like her mother) lost their jobs standing up for civil rights, and that members of the Anchorage Assembly who voted for the ordinance may face tough re-election battles because of their support.

Excellence in Online Media - Mel Green of Henkimaa
Mel's blog Henkimaa mixes the personal and the political with in depth analysis and keen observation. She accepted the award in an orange sweatshirt, worried that she wouldn't be recognized without her blue-colored ordinance hearing clothes. She also spoke of the union picket line at the mayor's "unity" dinner down the street as an issue of diversity, equality and quality of life.

Excellent in Outreach - Tiffany McClain
Tiffany is the coordinator of Equality Works, the group that organized in support of the equal rights ordinance. She thanked everyone for our support this summer and pledged to continue working for equality in Anchorage. She encouraged each of us to write to our senators in support of ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which has been introduced in both branches of Congress. ENDA only protects us from workplace discrimination (not in housing, education, finance or public accommodations, like the ordinance would have) but it is a step in the right direction and an important federal protection.

Lifetime Achievement Award - Vic Fischer and Jane Angvik
M.E. Rider, editor of the Grrlzlist and all-around community leader (grand marshal at PrideFest this year, and she has won just about every award the LGBT community gives to women) announced the winners of the lifetime achievement award. Neither Vic nor Jane could be present, but M.E. described their decades of work for Alaska and the diverse communities of Anchorage, starting before most of us were born.

The last official speaker was organizer John Aronno. The final award, the Epic Fail Joke Award, was won by Mayor Dan Sullivan for vetoing the ordinance. But in deference to the recent death of Dan's father, former mayor George Sullivan, the award was not given. Instead, John told a story comparing political involvement in Anchorage to politics in Lower 48 cities. Here you can meet your elected leaders at local events like the Diversity Dinner, and that makes all the difference.

There was an impressive showing of politicians at the Diversity Dinner. In addition to those already mentioned - Elvi, Diane, Eric (Cordero), Bob, and Shelia - I saw Les Gara, Patrick Flynn, Harriet Drummond, Eric Croft, Ethan Berkowitz... and then Senator Mark Begich came from his Health Care Town Hall and said a few words of support.

One of the goals of this event was to build the momentum from the ordinance battle to address future gay concerns. So what is next? For the GLBT community, October is Gay History Month, National Coming Out Day (Oct 11), the Anchorage Pride Conference (Oct 9-11), and supporting the National Equality March in DC on Oct 10-11.

I invite our friends and allies to join us in celebrating diversity and equality at GLBT events in October and throughout the year, and to continue learning about our community and working together to achieve, as Elvi said, "equality for e-v-e-r-y-o-n-e."

Thanks to John and Heather for organizing a True Diversity Dinner, and thanks to the speakers, performers, award presenters, helpers and guests for making the evening such a grand success!

- photo from Floridana Alaskiana, where Janson Jones has four posts of photos from the dinner.

Prevo Celebrates 38 Years of Hate

Jerry Prevo is celebrating Gay History Month with a party honoring himself and his many years of spreading lies and prejudice against the gay community.

The invitation shown above describes Jerry's main achievement in all those years at ABT: making sure Anchorage continues to treat gay people as second class citizens.

"This year Pastor Prevo ... fought and won against making homosexuality an acceptable alternative lifestyle in our city..."

Remember how the ordinance opponents kept saying that it wasn't about letting pastor Jerry decide the secular laws of our city... it was about bathrooms and businesses and other nonsense?

Well, Jerry thinks it's all about HIMSELF - "he fought" - not a coalition of leaders, or the conservative churches of Anchorage, or any recognition of a group effort. Jerry claims a personal victory over the city.

This invite is proof that his real goal was - and has always been - to build his church upon a foundation of homophobia.

Jerry, it doesn't take courage to demonize your neighbors for media attention and big donations.

38 years of Hate, a career to be proud of.

- hat tip to The Alaska Commons for the invitation.

Sara's News Round-up 9/27/09

A selection of current GLBT news chosen by Sara Boesser, author of Silent Lives: How High a Price?

Bangkok, Thailand, 365Gay.com, September 24, 2009

Washington, Servicemembers United, September 10, 2009

St. Louis, Joplin Globe, September 21, 2009

Windy City Times, September 23, 2009

Vientiane, Laos, BBC News, June 18, 2009

London, London Evening Standard, September 9, 2009

365Gay.com, September 25, 2009

Washington, Washington Blade, September 23, 2009

San Francisco, Washington Blade, September 24 2009

Olympia Washington, Newsday.com, September 26, 2009

Flashnet, Reconciling Ministries

This Week in LGBT Alaska 9/25/09

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

Juneau

SEAGLA Reception for Aquafest cruisers 9/27, 6 p.m.

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


Fairbanks

Jeff's White Trash Party 9/26, 9 p.m. with DJ White Chocolate, for GLBT and friends 21 and over.


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.


Anchorage

The True Diversity Dinner & Awards Celebration 9/25, 7 p.m. at the Snow Goose.

Tan-N-Test: Free Tan for a Donation to Four A's 9/26, 10 a.m.- 8 p.m. at Preview Sun & Day Spa.

Free "Hopes & Dreams" spiritual retreat and potluck 9/26, noon-6 p.m. at MCC Anchorage.

Diversity Month GLBT Open House 9/26, 5-7 p.m. at The Gay & Lesbian Community Center of Anchorage.

"Hedwig and The Angry Inch" 9/26, 7 p.m. & 11 p.m. at Mad Myrna's.

Sunday worship, 2 p.m. at MCC Anchorage.

ICOAA's Investitures for the 37th Reign 9/27, 6 p.m. at Mad Myrna's.

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

The Lion Sings Tonight: A Four A's benefit with "The Lion King" cast, Monday 9/28, 7 p.m. at Mad Myrna's.

Grrlzlist Town Hall, Monday 9/28, 5 p.m. at Modern Dwellers Chocolate Lounge.

International Student Association: LGBT Issues Across Cultures, Thursday 10/1, 4-5 p.m. in the UAA Learning Resource Center, Rm 126.

Dinner is the first of Four Great Shows

We have four excellent LGBT-related shows this week in Anchorage, one a night from Friday through Monday:

(1) The True Diversity Dinner at the Snow Goose, 7 p.m. on Friday

Not impressed by the Mayor's no-gays-need-apply "Unity" Dinner with a highly paid GOP-fundraising keynote speaker at the one hotel being boycotted by the unions? Then join us Friday evening with True Diversity speakers and awards, plus music, food and dancing, two blocks down 3rd Avenue at the Snow Goose. Speakers and performers include Assemblywoman Elvi Gray-Jackson, Diane Benson, Shannyn Moore, Steven Alvarez, Reverend Marquita Pierre, and the Yup'ik Dance troupe Masingka. Please support diversity by donating to this event at the True Diversity Dinner web site.

(2) "Hedwig and The Angry Inch" on Saturday, 7 & 11 p.m at Mad Myrna's
The cult fave "Hedwig" is coming to Anchorage in a live performance starring Atz Lee Kilcher (who opened for his sister's concert in August) and a full band. The Homer shows were awesome, we can't wait to see it at Myrna's. Tickets are $20. Call for reservations (907) 276-9762.

(3) The Imperial Court's Investitures on Sunday, 6 p.m. at Mad Myrna's
The ICOAA cordially invites you to Investitures for the 37th Reign, hosted by Denali Emperor 37 Kevin and Aurora Empress 37 Miss MeMe. $10 includes a show with all the current title holders and a buffet. Join the ICOAA and have fun all year.

(4) The Lion Sings Tonight on Monday, 7 p.m. at Mad Myrna's
"The Lion King" is playing at the Performing Arts Center and the cast will perform a one-night-only cabaret at Mad Myrna's to benefit the Four A's and Broadway Cares. Tickets are $20, call (907) 263-2046.

Hollis French on the Struggle for Equal Rights

This message of support came from Hollis French, a Democratic member of the Alaska Senate and chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He announced his candidacy for Governor in July.
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The Struggle For Equal Rights For All of Alaska's Citizens Is Not A New One

In 1945, a state senator from Juneau speaking on an anti-discrimination bill said, "Who are these people, barely out of savagery, who want to associate with us whites, with 5000 years of civilization behind us?" Elizabeth Peratrovich, who was the guiding force behind the bill, responded by saying, "I would not have expected that I, who am barely out of savagery, would have to remind the gentlemen with five thousand years of recorded civilization behind them of our Bill of Rights." Peratrovich's remarks are credited with pushing Alaska's Anti-Discrimination Act of 1945, one of the first anti-discrimination laws in a United States territory, through to passage.

Our constitution's promise of equal protection under the law is still in the process of fulfillment. It seems as though each generation must renew the effort, expanding the boundaries of equality through activism, political discourse, or civil disobedience.

A few years ago, the civil rights issue being discussed in Juneau was whether same sex couples should enjoy the same [employment] rights as heterosexual couples. In 2005 the Alaska Supreme Court ruled unanimously that they should, but some legislators objected, and in 2006 they introduced measures to amend our constitution to shrink the meaning of 'equal protection under the law.' I fought that measure as a member of the Judiciary Committee and I fought it again when it came up for a vote before the full Senate. The debate spilled over into 2007, when an advisory vote asking whether our constitution should be amended was placed on the ballot statewide and it narrowly passed. In response, another constitutional amendment was introduced in the Legislature, and I was proud to help other like-minded legislators defeat it.

This year's effort to expand the meaning of 'equal protection' was the ordinance passed by the Anchorage Assembly that would have prohibited discrimination in jobs and housing based on sexual orientation, much the same way that discrimination is prohibited based on race, gender, age and religion. As we all know, the measure was vetoed by Mayor Sullivan and the Assembly was one vote short of an override. That setback for the civil rights of Alaska's citizens will someday be righted; perhaps through a citizen's initiative, or perhaps through the election of a new mayor, or through the election of one more equal-rights minded assembly member.

Thus, the struggle goes on. The tide of history is clear, though. We are on the right side of this issue, and we will prevail.

The Lion Sings and Tan-N-Test for Four A's

We have two unique opportunities to raise money for Four A's this week: the cast of The Lion King is performing a benefit cabaret show at Mad Myrna's on Monday September 28, and Preview Sun & Day Spa is holding a Tan-N-Test fundraiser on Saturday, September 26.

"The Lion Sings Tonight" is a one night only cabaret by the cast of The Lion King to benefit Four A's and Broadway Cares. The show is on Monday September 28 at Mad Myrna's on 530 E. 5th Avenue. The doors open at 7 p.m. and the cabaret begins at 7:30. Tickets are $20 and will be available for purchase at the door or in advance by calling 263-2046.

Preview Sun & Day Spa is hosting the first ever Tan-N-Test fundraiser for Four A's. Come to Preview on Saturday, September 26 from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. and get a free tan when you make a donation to Four A's. There will be door prizes, free HIV testing, food and the opportunity to support HIV positive individuals in Alaska.

Preview Sun and Day Spa is located in Northern Lights Village at 1443 W. Northern Lights, Suite X, near the corner of Northern Lights and Minnesota. For more information, call 263-2046 or visit Preview Salon online and the Four A's.

KK editor, former ADN writer seeks Queer Alaska stories

Remember the local lesbian newsletter, Klondyke Kontact? Kim Wyatt, an editor of the KK and board member of RAW, has co-founded Bona Fide Books and wants to publish your stories of being gay or lesbian in the Great Land.

Queer in the Last Frontier is an anthology of literary essays that explore the experiences of LGBT Alaskans, the challenges and pleasures of being queer - for both newcomers and old-timers - in a place that is "isolated, conservative, and impossibly beautiful." Bona Fide is also seeking essays for an anthology called Permanent Vacation: Living and Working in Our National Parks. The two calls for submission were posted earlier this month HERE.

Kim gave Bent Alaska the scoop on Queer in the Last Frontier:

Q. Why did you choose an anthology of literary essays on Queer Alaska?
A. I've always loved nonfiction anthologies, and received an MFA in nonfiction from UAA. Also, I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and living in Alaska was an eye-opener. I felt like I had a better understanding of queer life and the importance of community after my time here. (Plus, I really love the title!)

Q. What queer and writing activities were you involved in when you lived in Alaska?
A. I edited the Klondyke Kontact for a while, and one of my goals was to make it a newsmagazine. I did shepherd it from rainbow-hued Xeroxed paper to newsprint with art, and tried to bring some consistency to the columns and layout. I applied for grants from the Gill Foundation and other organizations to upgrade materials. I had a lot of fun working on the KK, and had the help of some great Alaskan women. I was also on the board of Radical Arts for Women. And as I mentioned above, I got an MFA at UAA, and wrote for the Anchorage Daily News.

Q. What qualities are you looking for in the essays?
A. Honesty and transcendence are ideal, but I'm probably partial to stories that make me laugh or cry. We're really just looking for well-written explorations of queer life in Alaska. Or life in Alaska as it is experienced by someone who happens to be queer. You can write about relationships, the Northern Lights, or working on a fishing boat. Just tell your story.

Q. Will you be visiting Alaska to promote the book?
A. Absolutely. I try to get up there whenever I can.

Kim has a special greeting for all the Alaskans who remember her, especially the KK readers:

"Hello, Alaskans! I just got back from a backpacking trip with another former Alaskan, Val Garrison – the friendships I made there are lasting, because that's just the kind of people Alaskans are. (And I would like to give a shout-out to the Wesleyan Wimmin's Writing Wetreat!)"

photo: Bona Fide Books Publisher Kim Wyatt & Val Garrison goofing around in Yosemite 9/09.

The deadline for submitting an essay to Queer in the Last Frontier is February 5, 2010 and the word count is limited to 5,000. Writers will receive $100 for their story and one copy of the collection. Send to Bona Fide Books submissions with "Alaska" and the title of the work in the subject line.

For more information, please visit Bona Fide Books.

Sara's News Round-up 9/20/09

Another batch of interesting news from Sara in Juneau. Follow the linked titles to the articles and web sites.

October 9-11, 2009, at Alaska Pacific University - Atwood Center
Anchorage, Alaska, Identity Inc.

Uruguay, ABC, September 10, 2009

Amazon.com

San Francisco, 365Gay.com, September 14, 2009

Straight Spouse Network

New Jersey, Advocate, September 15, 2009

Atlanta, Southern Voice, September 11, 2009

UKPA, September 12, 2009

Washington, Advocate, September 14, 2009

Brandon, Florida, ABC Action News, September 11, 2009

Maine, 365Gay.com, September 18, 2009

New York, Reuters, September 18, 2009

TowleRoad, September 15, 2009

Serbia, BBC, September 19, 2009

Glasgow, Scotland, BBC, August 3, 2009

Advocate, September 18, 2009

This Week in LGBT Alaska 9/18/09

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

Juneau

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


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.


Anchorage

Tim Miller performs "Lay of the Land" at Out North, Sept 18-19, 7:30 p.m.

Jay Her's Adult Comedy Hypnosis Show 9/19, 9 p.m. $10 at Mad Myrna's

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

Sunday worship with MCC Anchorage, 2 p.m.

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

Alaskans Together annual meeting on Oct 11, scholarships available

Alaskans Together for Equality, Inc. (ATE) is happy to announce its 1st Annual Meeting, to be held at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Anchorage on Sunday October 11, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

We will be engaged in important strategic planning to determine the future direction of Alaska's only statewide civil rights group focused on promoting the rights of Alaska's LGBTQ population. This is an open meeting and all are welcome and encouraged to attend. Lunch will be held on site.

In order to help people from outside of the Anchorage area to be able to participate in the meeting, we are providing a limited number of scholarships to help defray travel expenses. If you would like to apply for a scholarship, please send an email containing your name, contact information, and a brief statement on why you would like to attend the meeting to Joseph Lapp.

ATE will also be making a presentation at the Anchorage Pride Conference on Saturday October 10, and we will be hosting a social and fundraiser after the Conference from 5-7:30 p.m.

True Diversity Dinner gives Everyone a Place at the Table

Update: It was awesome! Read A Diversity Dinner to Remember for the planned, unplanned and many inspiring moments of the evening. Thank you, John and Heather.
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September is the Mayor's Diversity Month, beginning just two weeks after Mayor Sullivan vetoed the Anchorage Assembly's LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance. The main event of Diversity Month is the Mayor's Dinner.

The evening of food, awards and entertainment was called the Diversity Dinner by Mayor Begich, but Mayor Sullivan changed the name to "Unity" after vetoing Ordinance 64, and invited Lynn Swann, an anti-gay Republican political candidate from outside, to give the keynote address.

The irony of his actions inspired allies John Aronno of Alaska Commons and Heather Aronno of SOSAnchorage.net to plan an alternate diversity dinner, with input from other bloggers and LGBT newsletter editors.

Please join us for a real diversity celebration, on the same night as Sullivan's "dis-unity" dinner. True Diversity Dinner will be a wonderful evening of pro-diversity entertainment, speakers and awards:
September is our Mayor's Diversity Month and September 25th is the Diversity Awards banquet at the Hilton in downtown Anchorage. Unfortunately, Mayor Sullivan is uncomfortable with the term "diversity" and has changed the name to the "Unity" Awards Banquet and celebration. The mayor has stated publicly that he does not celebrate the ways in which we are all different, but rather, the ways in which we are the same.

Some of us do not feel celebrated at all, and are organizing a true diversity celebration on the same night, in the spirit of the current administration's own definition of diversity. We have rented the Snow Goose (September 25th, doors open at 7pm and festivities begin at 7:30). We wish it to be as diverse and multi-cultural as possible and much more fun than whatever will occur at the Hilton. And while the "Unity" Dinner will feature a silent auction and cost the small price of $60 a ticket… Ours will be only $10 (just to cover costs) and is quickly filling up with local performers, awards, and speakers including Assemblywoman Elvi Gray-Jackson, Diane Benson, and Shannyn Moore!

It will be a great night, after what has been a rough summer for many in our Alaskan family, and we hope you can join us. Tickets are available in advance through Borders Books & Music (and hopefully some place in mid-town or downtown, TBA.)

Awards in excellence in the representation, advancement, and advocacy of diversity will be handed out at the True Diversity Dinner. Voting has begun for the 6 award categories HERE on a tab of the main web site for True Diversity Dinner.

In addition to the True Diversity Dinner, there will be one LGBT event on the official Mayor's Diversity Month calendar: A GLBT Open House at the Community Center.

The Gay & Lesbian Community Center of Anchorage is hosting a Diversity Month Open House with entertainment, door prizes and light refreshments to welcome our GLBT friends and allies. The GLCCA Open House is on Sept. 26, from 5-7 p.m. at 336 E. 5th Ave.

Pray-Away-the-Gay Speaker at UAF, Students say "Stop the Hate"

Update: The UAF Gay-Straight Alliance used this event to spark a dialogue about the "ex-gays" and earned the support of the Chancellor and the community. Read about it HERE.
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The huge event banner hanging from the stairs in the UAF Wood Center this week reads: "GAY? LONELY? CONFUSED? Hear Ex-Gay Edward Delgado's Compelling True Story: "From Sin's Bondage to Christ's Freedom!" 'Straight' for over 20 years and married to a beautiful wife & has two sons!" The banner also advertises free de-gaying counseling and links to anti-gay websites.

The UAF Campus Bible Ministries is sponsoring the pray-away-the-gay speaker from Exodus International. Delgado is scheduled to speak 14 times in 4 days, on Sept 15-18. He is not one of their regular speakers and is not listed on any Exodus web sites.

Students in the Gay Straight Alliance will hand out information on the truth behind the "ex-gay" lies, and peacefully protest during the speeches. They also want the offensive banner to be removed.

"We aren't looking to stop the speaker, as he does have the right to speak," writes GSA member Jessi Angelette, "but the banner is uncalled for. Many people from staff to students are offended by it and are working to have the banner removed."

The GSA will be tabling on the theme "Stop the Hate" on Tuesday from 12 to 2 p.m. in the Wood Center Mall. They asked to table all week, but were told the table space was all booked up. (Who reserved so many tables for this event?) Instead, they will peacefully protest outside on Wed., Thurs. and Friday.

LGBT-supportive students, staff and Fairbanks community members are invited to join the GSA. They will gather each day at the Wood Center before the first speech, around 10 a.m. on Wed. & Friday, and 11 a.m. on Thurs. Several students plan to attend one of the speeches "all rainbowed up."

People everywhere can help by emailing the following people about taking down the offensive banner: UAF Chancellor Rogers; the Director of UAF's Office of Equal Opportunity, Earlina Bowden; and the Board of Regents (Cynthia Henry, Chair or the full Board contact list.) In your message to the Board of Regents, please also mention the need to add sexual orientation to the UA system's anti-discrimination policies.

The American Psychological Association released a report in August saying that pray-away-the-gay therapies do not work and can lead to depression or suicide. Instead, the APA encourages therapists to try other options for helping clients, like support networks, education on gay issues, or switching churches.

In the video below, three former leaders of Exodus International, including co-founder Michael Busse, explain the failure of "ex-gay" counseling methods and give a public apology for the harm they caused to gays and lesbians while working for Exodus:

Anchorage Assembly awarded at Coronation 09

The Imperial Court of All Alaska ushered in the reign of the new Emperor and Empress, presented nineteen scholarships and five Community Service Awards - including a group award to the Assembly members who voted "yes" on Ordinance 64 - and performed a series of well-attended shows during Coronation 2009 on Labor Day Weekend.

"We had the best attendance at all functions in years," writes Emperor XXV Mikey La Choy. "Empress 37 Miss MeMe and Emperor 37 Kevin Holtz have a great year in store for us all, but of course they will need the support of the entire community to make it a success."

In addition to crowning the new monarchs, Coronation 2009 gave Community Service Awards to these recipients:
Peter Dispirito memorial Award: Adam & Steve: Alex Barros, Teddy Jones, Donald Greene & Jared Krapfl
Wayne Hussey Memorial Award: Holli Yancey
Raymond Jorgenson Memorial Group Award: The 7 brave members of the Anchorage Assembly who voted "Yes" for the equal rights ordinance: Patrick Flynn, Matt Claman, Harriet Drummond, Elvi Gray-Jackson, Sheila Selkregg, Mike Gutierrez & Jennifer Johnston
Shante' Youth Service Award: Willow Arnell and Mike Mason
Rochelle DeLite Memorial Fairbanks Service Award: Keith Darkchild
The Imperial Court intends to formally present the Raymond Jorgenson Memorial Group Award at an Assembly meeting and personally thank those members who voted in favor of Ordinance 64. The LGBTA community will be invited to the award presentation when a date is finalized.

The 2009 Emperors and Empresses Scholarship Fund awarded a total of $48,500 to 19 students: Alex Barrows, Logan Bartels, James Crump, Rolland Debler, France Desmarattes, Wiliam Ehelebe, Mark Essert, Rachel Furman, John Hirst, Kenneth Jenkins, Wendy Langley, Joshua Lee, Monica Lettner, Colleen McNulty, Juanita Reese, David Robinson, Darren Starr, Emily Tiller and Karl Wade.

Congratulations to Empress 37 Miss MeMe and Emperor 37 Kevin Holtz! We look forward to a wonderful reign.

Sara's News Round-up 9/13/09

Follow the linked titles to the article or podcast.

School Library Journal, September 9, 2009

New York, Reuters, September 11, 2009

September 11, 2009

New York, Washington Blade, September 4, 2009

Khartoum, Sudan, Reuters, September 7, 2009

Atlanta, Ga., Southern Voice, September 9, 2009

South Africa, Miami Herald, September 11, 2009

Washington, Southern Voice, August 28, 2009

Johannesburg, South Africa, August 17, 2009

London, CNN.com/Europe, September 11, 2009

London, Mail Online, September 12, 2009

Manhattan, Advocate, September 11, 2009

Ottawa, Canada, AFP, September 9, 2009

Tennessee, Advocate, August 13, 2009

Los Angeles, September 10, 2009

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