Tag Archives: LGBT

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What a drag (show)!

By Simon Isham–

The most sickening spectacle on campus returns for its 17th year. And in this case — and only in this case — “sickening” is a good thing! Turn with me in your drag dictionaries to “S.” Sickening (adj.): incredibly amazing, excessively hot.

“We’re kind of like Lady Gaga in the LGBT Center: we live for the applause,” said Lisa Gunterman, U of L LGBT Center’s assistant director, who introduced the show. PINK, U of L’s annual drag variety show took place Friday night.

Typically, it is Director Brian Buford who introduces the show, but this night was anything but typical: Buford participated as a performer this year.

Buford was the winner of  the Making Change competition, in which students vote for the person they most want to see perform in PINK by dropping money in a bucket in the Intersection. In the production, Buford was one of a trio, along with PINK veterans Kimora St. James and Kashmere St. James. The three performed as The Dreams from the 2006 musical “Dreamgirls,” in a very dignified performance.

At the end of the song, the tip line was still so long that the show’s organizers called a 15-minute intermission in order to give Buford a chance to thank all his fans and collect the money. Buford will be donating all of the tips he received to the LGBT Center and to the Rustin Community, a social justice-themed living community comprising two floors of the University Tower Apartments.

The show was co-coordinated by two students, Johnathon Hockensmith and Alex Cooper. Hockensmith, a sophomore, also performed in the show as drag queen Jessica Silvers.

The “mother” of the House of PINK was Reva Devereaux, who has held the role for the past several years. In drag culture, a drag mother is an experienced drag queen who acts as a mentor and guide to less experienced queens.

“Let me fess up,” Devereaux said. “I almost couldn’t make it.”

She recounted the story of how, the week before PINK, she had hit herself in the face with the door of her car, which knocked out a tooth. Devereaux said she called  Buford, who told her: “Mothers can’t take off because they’re missing a tooth; you’ve got to get your butt in there.”

“All the performers tonight are donating their money to such good causes. All the proceeds (from my performances) go to my tooth fund,” Devereaux joked.

PINK 2014 included 23 performances by 18 acts. The entertainers ranged in levels of experience, from fresh-faced drag amateurs Cecil Saturn and Bebe Blaze, to Play Dance Bar playmates Spacee Kadett and Bianca Nicole. Miss Kentuckiana Pride Festival 2013, Vivica Heart, also made an appearance, wearing leopard-print leotard with a glittery bustle, and feathered hair piled high.

Music chosen for the show was Beyonce-heavy. I have included all of the tracks I could identify:

“It’s just always amazing how incredible this community is and how distinct the University of Louisville is compared to other universities,” said Keith Brooks, co-coordinator of the Fairness Campaign. Brooks attended the event, despite the fact that his organization didn’t reserve a table this year, as they usually do. “They are so supportive of LGBT students, staff and faculty. It’s really remarkable.”

When asked if he had any particular favorite performer, Brooks said, “They were all my favorites. But I was really impressed by Brian (Buford). I didn’t have any idea that he would perform. It was a very pleasant surprise.”

The event was followed by an afterparty at the recently opened Play Dance Bar, which also hosts popular drag shows.

Full disclosure: Hockensmith is a former member of the Cardinal’s advertising staff, but we’re guessing he made more money as a performer at PINK than he did as a salesman.

Olympic athletes speak out against Russia’s anti-LGBTQ laws

By Val Servino–
In late June, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill into action that altered the freedom of queer individuals in the country. Formally known as Article 6.21 of the Code of the Russian Federation on Administrative Offenses, the antigay act outlaws the “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors”. The law aims to limit the belief in youths that non-normative sexuality or gender representation is of value or “attractive”.
Putin’s stronghold on the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, and otherwise Queer, or LGBTIQ, community is not limited to citizens of the Russian Federation. In fact, non-residents are subject to more extreme penalties.
Russian natives can be fined anywhere from 4,000 to 1,000,000 rubles–120 to 30,000 USD–depending on their place in society. Public officials receive much higher fines than average citizens.  Organizations, if not fined 1 million rubles, are subject to a 90-day suspension. Internet usage also increases the monetary amount.
Persons without citizenship can be fined anywhere between 4,000 and 100,000 rubles, or 120 to 3,000 USD, with harsher penalties for internet-based propaganda.  In addition to the cash fine, non-natives are subject to a possible 15-day imprisonment followed by deportation. This includes refugees, who fled war and terror for Russia’s borders. The nation’s current refugee population is 110,701 with an additional 15,022 asylum seekers.
Also included in the category of stateless persons are the athletes expected to compete in the 2014 Winter Olympics at Sochi.
In addition to outcry from the American public calling for a boycott of the games en masse, the international community has reacted as well. Athletes with global reach in particular have spoken out. At the 2013 IAAF World Athletics Championships in Moscow, Russian athletes Tatyana Firova and Ksenyia Ryzhova shared a kiss after winning the women’s 4×400 meter relay.
Additionally, American Nick Symmonds placed second in the 800-meter race. He dedicated his silver medal to his queer loved ones in the states.
“As much as I can speak out about it, I believe that all humans deserve equality as however God made them. Whether you’re gay, straight black, white, we all deserve the same rights,” said Symmonds, as reported by R-Sport. He was the first athlete to speak out against the new law on Russian soil.
Swedish natives and National Hockey League players Henrik Zetterberg and Victor Hedman also spoke out against the ban. Zetterberg, who will likely be called up to the Swedish National Hockey Team for the Winter Olympics, described the law as “awful, just awful”. He continued to explain his belief  “that everyone should be able to be themselves. It’s unbelievable that it can be this way in this time, especially in a big country like Russia.”
While it is wonderful that these athletes are in support of human rights for the Russian citizens who will be hosting their competition come February 2014, it is unknown whether these athletes will follow through on their beliefs.
The Russian LGBTIQ community has hopes that athletes will compete in rainbow-colored uniforms as a form of protest. However, the International Olympic Committee Charter states, “no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.” Such assertions could lead to fines or suspensions on behalf of the International Olympic Committee or member nations.
Russian natives are similarly unhappy with the legislation, which, put in place to ‘protect’ the youth, has given justification to vigilante attacks.
Dina Shishkova, a Seton Hall University graduate student and research assistant at the School of Diplomacy and International Relations, was raised in Novomoskovsk, Russia. She explained that the new law is a variation on a theme for the Russian Federation, with several regions already instituting similar ‘protective’ laws. Sochi is one of these areas.
When asked what would need to be done before her home country repealed the homophobic law, Shishkova stated, “Personally, I don’t think this Federal law will be repealed on domestic level. On the international level, the most possible action that can be done is pressuring Russia to repeal.
“Several organizations already trying to act, such as Amnesty International and Human Right Watch, can’t enforce any actions as it will bring the sovereignty issue to the table. Legally speaking, Russia is free to treat its nationals as bad as it wants but the matter would change if it prosecuted a foreign national.”
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Nature vs. nurture is the wrong way to frame the gay rights debate

By Adam Dahmer–

While feedback from last month’s column on the abolition of marriage has been varied, one recurrent theme among both opponents and supporters of marital equality between heterosexual and homosexual couples, is the question as to whether homosexuality is an inborn trait, or a conscious decision. For many people, the answer to this question decides not only the legitimacy or illegitimacy of same sex marriage, but of same sex romantic relationships in general.

Those who contend that individuals consciously select their sexual orientation tend to look unfavorably on homosexuality, while those who believe that sexual orientation is biologically determined usually condone same sex attraction and the activities its expression entails. This debate is often framed as “nature vs. nurture,” and somehow, its adherents fail to grasp that it bears absolutely no relevance on any discussion of human sexuality. For various reasons, nature vs. nurture should be discarded as a logical framework for the consideration of LGBT rights.

In the first place, hinging the legitimacy of homosexuality on the presence or absence of its biological foundations presupposes that it is morally evil. Essentially, those who argue for the legal and social acceptance of same sex relationships based on the nature vs. nurture argument justify their position by admitting that homosexuality would be wrong if attempted as the result of mere human volition, but should be tolerated because it is a compulsion over which gays and lesbians have no control. It is akin to excusing the perpetual drunkenness of an alcoholic by explaining that he cannot help but desire excessive drink. The difference, of course, is that homosexuality and alcoholism are not analogous. Whereas the latter often proves utterly debilitating to those who experience it. The former is completely non-detrimental to those involved.

Refining the metaphor of the alcoholic, one could say that reasoning along the lines of nature vs. nurture establishes homosexuality as a psychological condition akin to nymphomania, a degree of sexual desire which is socially unconventional and morally incapacitating to the point of deviance.

This sort of thinking paves the way for well-meaning conservatives who disapprove of same-sex attraction to attempt to “cure” those people whom they perceive as afflicted with homosexual urges. They assume that, as with nymphomania, the natural inclinations of  gays and lesbians to desire physical involvement with same-sex partners, while impossible to extinguish, can be consciously suppressed. The movement to orchestrate the uniform psychological suppression of same sex attraction  to  is not in the best interest of the LGBT community, and its members largely fail to realize the extent of the damage they continually inflict upon their public image by rhetorically adhering to the arguments from biological determinism that justify it.

 

More outrageously, claiming that homosexuality is justifiable only as a biological inclination makes engaging in same-sex romantic relations for reasons other than innate predisposition seem morally wrong. This inhibits the full expression of human sexuality, and means that people who are merely sexually curious cannot pursue orientational self-exploration without risking the condemnation of sexual traditionalists and gay-rights advocates alike.

A good example is the imbroglio into which pop singer Katy Perry plunged with the debut of her song, “I Kissed a Girl.” Gay rights activists railed against the piece, alleging that since Perry self-identified as “straight,” her song’s titular act undermined “serious” lesbianism. Ironically, the song invited equally harsh criticism from social conservatives, who alleged that Perry was a nefarious proponent of the lesbian lifestyle. The umbrage from both camps was completely irrational. Politically, it makes no sense whatsoever for proponents of gay rights or traditional values to alienate potential allies of their own movement. Especially in the case of lesbianism, it seems highly counterproductive for the leaders of the LGBT community to draw false dichotomies between “serious” and “non-serious” lesbians when the social acceptance of homoerotic sexual expression is highly instrumental in preventing the condemnation of members of the LGBT community by heterosexuals.

Ethically, the widespread criticism of the song is even less conscionable. If two adult women of sound mind have a mutual desire to kiss–whether their motivations are biological, socially conditioned, or personally contrived–then it ought to be their right to do so without evoking the self-righteous consternation of lesbian activists or anyone else. Similarly, if for some reason other than sexual fulfillment, a man decides to explore a sexual dimension in his relationship with a male friend, and that friend consents to his affections, then the two should not be made to feel guilt, even if both are predominantly or even exclusively attracted to women by biological inclination. In both cases, the involved individuals’s actions are the expression of their freewill, and should not be judged according to the origins of their motivational impeti.

Just as people who are biologically inclined to seek sexual partners of one sex but consciously choose to experiment with another should not be subject to the moral judgment of their peers, a person who feels attraction to members of one sex or another, or to both, should not be punished for failing to act on his or her desires. Whether this self restraint is in-and-of-itself more moral than its alternative, as some theologians and philosophers claim, is and should be subject to debate, but just as no one should be persecuted for the way in which they act upon their sexual desires, or for engaging in sexual relations for reasons other than the satisfaction of sexual desire, no one should be condemned for adopting an ethic of asceticism in matters of sex.

For me, the importance of this point was highlighted by an incident that I once witnessed in high school. While eating lunch one day, I overheard a conversation between two friends seated at an adjacent table. One was a confident and outspoken lesbian upperclassman, and the other was a freshman who had never considered his sexual orientation before coming to high school. The freshman had always lived a heterosexual lifestyle, and came from a family that condemned homosexuality. Nonetheless, he suspected that he might be gay or bisexual. After mulling over the question of his sexuality for some weeks, he had come to the conclusion that he was, in fact gay, and proudly announced this realization to his table mate by declaring, “I have decided I’m gay!”

However, instead of the approval he had probably expected his comment to elicit, he was met with a verbal attack. Rather than being happy that he had resolved a weighty existential quandary, his friend was incensed that he thought he could decide the nature of his sexuality, and berated him for several minutes before leaving the table and eating elsewhere. But what right did she have to condemn him?

If he avowed that he wanted to engage in sexual relations with men and not women, regardless of his motivations she should have offered him emotional support. Instead, she was so hung up on the politics of the biological argument for gay rights that she disconfirmed his resolution, and left him feeling uncertain about his decision and abandoned by his friend.

When it comes to the question of sexual legitimacy as it is perceived within the LGBT community, the very use of terms like “serious lesbianism” in public discourse highlight the increasing antiquity and inadequacy of the nomenclature our society applies to sexual orientation. Since the publication of the Kinsey reports in the mid-twentieth century, it has been generally accepted among sexual researchers that heterosexuality and homosexuality are no more than points demarcating the opposite ends of a broad spectrum. While there are probably some people who are completely “straight” and others who are purely “gay” or “lesbian,” it is increasingly evident that the vast majority of people, while favoring one end or the other, exhibit behavior or harbor desires that place them somewhere between the spectral poles.

In the face of so nuanced a sexuality, terms like “bi”, “straight” and “gay” ultimately do nothing but force people into ill-fitting proverbial boxes, confounding healthy notions of sexual identity and creating unnecessary and artificial divisions in society.

Ultimately, the selection of sexual or romantic partners ought to be a matter for consideration by no one but the desirer, the desiree, and the higher power—if any—to which they appeal for moral guidance. If an individual consensually engages another in a same sex romantic relationship, whether spurred by biological predisposition, an aspiration to deepen friendship, a yin for experimentation, a personal sense of obligation, or even a transient whim, it is no one’s right to pass judgment. In short, it should be socially acceptable for people to make love to whichever willing adults they so choose, regardless of why they want to make love to them. The presence of a biological predisposition to attraction, or lack thereof, is not relevant.

Actors Theatre performs a series of plays concerning dream science. They invite members of the public to share dream experiences on their website.

2012-2013 recap: Best of the best

By Joey Yazell–

The 2012-2013 year has been filled with events and activities of all sorts with something for everyone. With the work of the Student Activities Board and sports programs, U of L had moments and experiences throughout the school year that those in attendance will always remember. As the semester wraps up, U of L will hold a special place in some hearts.  Memories of epic moments this past year will not be forgotten, and will be a benchmark in the schools history. We can look back to see how far we’ve come, as students, as men, women, and most of all Cardinals.

Kendrick Lamar31August2012-Kendrick-Lamar-Album-Push-Back
On Thursday March 21st 2013 rappers Kendrick Lamar and School Boy Q. performed a mesmerizing show at the Palace Theatre in Downtown Louisville. “Kendrick was dope, the Palace knows how to turn up!” Said Austin Smith

Carnival! Mardi Gras
In the Bingham humanities Quad, Smiles, Culture, authentic food, live performances, and diversity all came together to celebrate Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras.

Sleep Rock thy Brain
An exceptional performance of “Sleep Rock Thy Brain” by the U of L Theatre Department, the play was a collaboration between Actors Theatre as a part of Humana Festival of New American Plays, and ZFX Flying effects. Both Actors Theatre’s and U of L’s performances were performed at Lincoln Elementary Performing Arts School.  The collaboration was the first of its kind and is raising the bar for New American Theatre and Universities.

Actors Theatre performs a series of plays concerning dream science. They invite members of the public to share dream experiences on their website.

The Buried Life
The cast of MTV’s “The Buried Life” visited campus April 11th to talk to students about thinking in different ways. Their motto is “Before I die I…” The cast gave a heartwarming inspirational speech and discussion and invited the crowd to share some of the things on their bucket lists. The cast got the audience thinking and gave them a purpose and reason to keep going.

Aung San Suu Kyi
Nobel Peace Prize Winning Activist Aung San Suu Kyi spoke in Comstock Hall in October. Speaking on the topic of her homeland of Burma, politically known as Myanmar, about its government. Suu Kyi is known around the world for speaking out about the authoritarian Burmese government, and the Democratization process.  This talk was inspirational and left an impact on campus. Suu Kyi spoke for a total of nine minutes and answered questions for over an hour.

PINK
The University’s annual drag variety show in the SAC Multi purpose room in March this semester, and drew quite a crowd. Held by the LGBT center, the show benefitted the LGBT Centers Study abroad program, which is the first one in the south.  PINK is U of L’s Longest running fundraiser and has been going since 1997 and plans to keep it rolling into the future.DSC_3067

Barnaroo
A Lion Named Roar, The Kicks, and Caleb Performed live music in front of the red barn for a concert held by the Student Activities Board called Barnaroo. The show Rocked late into the night and gave away free t-shirts for the first 100 people there. They also provided free ice cream and food for the audience.

International Fashion Show 2013
Beautiful By Design was this years Motto for the #IFS2013. A Classy evening in the SAC multi purpose Room filled up quickly while flashes bombarded the red carpet outside. The crowd erupted when emcees Brina Joiner and KT Kennedy strolled the runway to kick off the night. The nights line up consisted of different cultural groups showing off native clothing and dances. The event drew a lot of well-deserved attention. It was an unforgettable experience.

Kerri Walsh Speaking to UofL VolleyBall Team
Kerri Wash is a Three Time Olympic Gold Medalist who spoke with the volleyball team in November. She spoke one on one with the team talking to them about what it takes to get to the level they want to achieve. She spoke on topics such as camaraderie and controlling competitive anxieties. This was a beneficial point for the volleyball team this year. It boosted their confidence and helped them finish out the season with a record of 30-4 winning the Big East regular season title and Big East Tournament.

Noah Efron on Iraeli Politics
In October this year Noah Efron visited U of L to speak on Israeli Politics and social justice. Being in the Israeli Army, Efron explains “Occupy Israel” and the decline of the natural.

features@louisvillecardinal.com
Photos by Rae Hodge, Jessica Knebel, Nicholas Linares, Tricia Stern/The Louisville Cardinal

Four out of the nine Supreme court justices are required to allow the case to be be heard, but they do not necessarily have to oppose or support the Defense of Marriage Act.

‘The Orientation’ Issue:’ Poised to be the case of the summer, the Defense of Marriage Act meets the ‘court of last resort’

By Simon Isham–

Four out of the nine Supreme court justices are required to allow the case to be be heard, but they do not necessarily have to oppose or support the Defense of Marriage Act.

Four out of the nine Supreme court justices are required to allow the case to be be heard, but they do not necessarily have to oppose or support the Defense of Marriage Act.

Name: Sonia Sotomayor
Age: 58
Track record: Attempted to avoid the question of same-sex marriage in her 2009 Supreme Court nomination hearing.
Remarks: “If the issue is letting the states experiment and letting the society take time to figure out its direction, why is taking a case now the answer?”

Name: Stephen Breyer
Age: 74
Track record: Voted in “Romer v. Evans” in 1996 that GLBT should be recognized as a constitutionally protected class.
Remarks: “There has been this uniform, one man, one woman rule for several hundred years, and there’s a revolution going on in the states. We either adopt the revolution or push it along a little, or we stay out of it.”

Name: Samuel Alito
Age: 63
Track record: Chaired a student conference at Princeton in 1971 advocating for the decriminalization of sodomy and equal opportunity protections for homosexuals.
Remarks: “You want us to step in and render a decision based on an assessment of the effects of this institution, which is newer than cell phones or the Internet?”

Name: Elena Kagan
Age: 52
Track record: Defended DOMA in her 2010 appointment hearing on the grounds that it is an existing law.
Remarks: “If you are over the age of 55, you don’t help us serve the government’s interest in regulating procreation through marriage. So why is that different? … I can assure you, if both the woman and the man are over the age of 55, there are not a lot of children coming out of that marriage.”

Name: John Roberts
Age: 58
Track record: Worked as a pro-bono lawyer for “Romer v. Evans” in 1996 defending the rights of homosexuals applying for jobs and housing.
Remarks: “There are some 40,000 children in California … that live with same-sex parents, and they want their parents to have full recognition and full status. The voice of those children is important in this case, don’t you think?”

Name: Clarence Thomas
Age: 64
Track record: Voted in “Romer v. Evans” in 1996 that GLBT should be not recognized as a constitutionally protected class.
Remarks: Justice Thomas has made no comments about the most recent hearing.

Name: Antonin Scalia
Age: 77
Track record: Objected to the decriminalization of gay sex in “Lawrence v. Texas” in 2003.
Remarks: “They’re arguing for a nationwide rule which applies to states other than California, that every state must allow marriage by same-sex couples even though states believe it is harmful (to children) — and I take no position on whether it’s harmful or not, but it is certainly true that there’s no scientific answer to that question at this point in time.”

Name: Anthony
Kennedy
Age: 76
Track record: Said in “Lawrence v. Texas” in 2003 that judges would soon declare same-sex marriage to be the policy of the U.S.; is expected by analysts to be the swing vote.
Remarks: “I just wonder if this case was properly granted.”

Name: Ruth Bader
Ginsburg
Age: 80
Track record: Dissented in “Boy Scouts of America v. Dale” in 2000, saying that Boy Scouts should be required to accept gay scoutmasters.
Remarks: “If we are totally for the states’ decision that there is a marriage between two people, for the federal government to then come in and say no joint return, no marital deduction, no Social Security benefits; your spouse is very sick but you can’t get leave … if that set of attributes, one might well ask, ‘What kind of marriage is this?’”

 

The Defense of Marriage Act, which was signed into law by Bill Clinton in 1996, is set to cause a stir when it is called up on the Supreme Court docket for consideration at the end of June.

But it is not only in Washington that DOMA has elicted strong reactions — voices of contention are springing up on U of L’s campus as well.

“I believe that DOMA is one of the world’s most literal representations of hipocricy, a radical ruling meant to supress citizens in a country that prides itself on diversity and being the home of the brave. It’s aggravating to say the least,” Steve Molina, a junior sports administration major told the Cardinal.

In the broader Louisville community, the discussion of DOMA has largely been sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, which brought DOMA attourney James Esseks to town with an update.

Esseks, who served as petitioner Edith Windsor’s legal counsel in her March hearing before the Supreme Court, spoke to an audience on April 25 at the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts, telling them that “Based on the questions the justices asked at argument, I’m guardedly optimistic that we’re going to get a good decision.”

Paul Clement, the lawyer for the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group who argued in favor of DOMA this March, is not so optimistic about his own case. He told the court during his three-minute rebuttal in March that he believed DOMA woulde eventually be struck down through democratic processes, but that there was no need for the Supreme Court to involve itself with the issue.

news@louisvillecardinal.com
Graphics by Simon Isham/The Louisville Cardinal

Grace Roberston, Sophomore Music Major

U of L students talk about marriage equality

 

Dylon Jones, Sophomore Jazz Studies Major

“It’s not a political issue, is it? It’s a humanitarian issue. There’s no apparent reason why anyone shouldn’t be able to marry who they want to.”

Logan Lloyd, Freshman Psychology Major

“I think everybody should be able to marry who they want to marry.  In this day and age,  we should have equality. It’s not fair for anyone to dictate who anyone else can marry.”

 

Grace Roberston, Sophomore Music Major

“I have no say over any given heterosexual person, I have no say over who they would want to marry. So why should anyone have the right to say, ‘Well, you can’t marry that person because you’re the same sex.’ I don’t understand the logic where people say, ‘You can’t do this because I don’t like it.”

 

opinion@louisvillecardinal.com
Photos by Caitlyn Crenshaw/The Louisville Cardinal

Students living at Rustin community reside on the 8th floor of University Tower Apartments.

Rustin community maintains momentum

By Val Servino–

Students living at Rustin community reside on the 8th floor of University Tower Apartments.

Senior Molly Eames is the delightfully exuberant Resident Assistant in the Rustin Community, on University Tower Apartments’ eighth floor. “They’re in top five best things that happened to me, along with bacon,” she jokes about her residents. Her motives for working and living in the community, however, are much more serious. “I really like mentoring, and creating those relationships where the students can come to me and talk about their issues and I know that I can be a resource…I love community building. I love trying to create safe spaces, not just physically or emotionally but spiritually. They can just let it all hang out when they’re home.”

The social justice community opened to students this fall, based around the principles of non-violence that guided Bayard Rustin, the civil rights leader after which it was named, and his predecessors. It is the only community of its kind in the state, as well as the entire Southern United States. The community opened on the centennial celebration of the life of Bayard Rustin, whose most remarkable though coincidentally also overlooked achievement is the organization of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

The residents are offered community service opportunities in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community, as well as their various service-related interest areas, such as environmental issues or immigrant rights with the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors, or DREAM Act, freshman resident Alex Cooper discussed. Community members are required to perform ten service hours per semester, in addition to monthly programs based around social justice issues. No students are currently Peace Studies or Social Change minors, but Eames said she “wouldn’t be surprised” if they were by graduation.

When asked about their reasons for living on the floor, many residents highlighted the sense of community the felt, whether they were LGBT-identified or not. Those who did fall under the umbrella of a non-heterosexual, or binary identity acknowledged the discomfort and uncertainty of traditional dorm living, be it through unfamiliar roommates, community bathrooms, or the lack of relatability of it all. Kaiden Volpe, a freshman Psychology major noted, “I wanted a safe space to live. I didn’t want to have to worry about the way I looked or dressed, or anything, really. I can present the way I want to, without being judged for it, and that’s a big deal.”

Rustin Community advisor and LGBT Center Assistant Director Lisa Gunterman recognized University leadership for their role in the creation of the social justice community, particularly the Vice Provost of Diversity Mordean Taylor-Archer. She added, “When you create a safe space for students, they thrive. Students are more likely to graduate, and get the support that they need and become connected and not, you know, be here for a semester and then leave.”

Alex Cooper was in the closet before the Mold Crisis of 2012 “excommunicated” her to the Province. She soon found herself at University Tower Apartments, where most of her friends were living. Her discomfort in Miller Hall however was not restricted to her repressed sexual orientation. “I was the only person of color on the floor. I’m still a minority here, but at the same time, people value me, they value my opinion for things that we talk about, just regularly in normal conversation, as a person of color – and that was never brought up (at Miller). I felt that it was something people were ignoring, or people just choose to look over it. I feel more like myself here. More like I can identify with that part of myself.”

features@louisvillecardinal.com
Photos by Val Servino/The Louisville Cardinal

edith

In the news: What you missed while you were in class

By Simon Isham and Maggie Cunningham–

The recent marriage of Edie Windsor and Thea Spyer will most likely affect the Supreme Court’s upcoming ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act.

Supreme Court hears same-sex marriage case

Edie Windsor married Thea Spyer in Canada after a 40-year romantic partnership. After Spyer’s death in 2009, Windsor was faced with $363,000 in federal estate taxes, since same-sex marriages were not recognized in their homestate of New York at the time of Spyer’s death. Her case, which she presented before the Supreme Court this week, is regarded as one of the cases which will most affect the court’s upcoming ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act.

 

Waverly Hills rezoning means possible renovations 

Charlie Mattingly bought the Waverly Hills Sanitorium in 2001 and since has bought surrounding acres and access roads. These purchases have culminated in his recent filing of a rezoning plan to turn the old tuberculosis ward into a hotel, convention center, restaurant and liquor bottling plant. The Sanitorium was most recently closed as the Woodhaven Geriatric Center in 1982 and is most recently used for ghost tours. Part of the fourth floor plans leave it as a museum for the old tuberculosis ward and would continue the ghost tours. Many other owners have presented plans for the building in the past including a prison and a large statue of Jesus on the roof, both of which never came through.

 

Ashley Judd announces she will not run for Senate

For several months, Ashley Judd has been meeting with Kentucky democrats and consultants appearing to be gearing up for a Senate run against Mitch McConnell. Judd recently announced via twitter however, that she will be choosing to spend the time on her family, rather running for the Senate Position. This comes after a divorce announcement in January.  While her potential candidacy was bringing national attention to the 2014 Kentucky Senate race, McConnell has been hoisting attacks on Judd, her Hollywood fame, and her Tennessee zip code. McConnell has already raised more than $7 million for his campaign, yet some polls have those opposing him outnumbering him two to one.

 

Industrial Hemp bill moves forward to Gov. Beshear

In the final minutes of the Kentucky legislatures regular session, an ammended bill to regulate industrial hemp production by farmers was passed. The bill will now be passed along to Governor Steve Beshear who had previously sided with the Kentucky State Police who opposed the bill until recent amendments. The State Police, along with Beshear and several other democratic leaders question the bills economic viability, as well as the possible harm it would cause on marijuana enforcement.The plants, although similar in appearance, have different levels of THC, hemp being far below average levels in marijuana. Another major concern is who will be in control of the hemp division if passed, the University of Kentucky, or the states agricultural department.

news@louisvillecardinal.com
Photo courtesy of Bayou Buzz

DSC_3067

Painting the Town PINK

Reva Devereaux performed at U of L’s PINK which celebrated it’s 16th consecutive year.

By Simon Isham–

The Multipurpose Room in the SAC is no stranger to fierce and fabulous. As host to PINK, the university’s annual drag variety show, the venue lives a double life. By day, it is a drab, crowded eating area where students nosh on systematically prepared lunches, then rush to class. By night, it is utterly transformed into a sultry, dimly lit nightclub, complete with faux potted palms and pink glowsticks.

As the crowd waited for the show to begin on Friday night, their chatter was as thunderous as it is during the daytime hours; however, once M.C. Lampe, the master of ceremonies for the evening, requested everyone’s attention, the assembly fell silent with anticipation.

Brian Buford, the director of the LGBT Center, took the stage to welcome the audience, as well as to announce a new logo and website for the center. Buford said that the proceeds from the evening’s admission would benefit the LGBT Center’s new study-abroad program, the first of its kind in the South.

He also thanked Julie Onnembo, assistant director of student involvement, for having attended every PINK since the first in 1997, and crowned seven year-old Katie the Princess of PINK, having attended every year since she was two. Buford then introduced the cast of PINK 2013.

The troupe filed onto the stage, led by drag queen Reva Devereaux, a five-year veteran of the show who was named the honorary mother of the PINK cast. Devereaux wore a spiky green wig and matching green, white, red and blue dress as she lip-synced to “Fashionista” by Jimmy James while the performers paraded around her in a circle, stopping occasionally to pose.

When the song ended, Devereaux explained the procedure of tipping for drag show “virgins,” whereby audience members who wish to thank a performer for entertaining them may approach the stage to hand a bill to him or her.

Reflecting on her past PINK experiences, Devereaux said that she loved the show because it helped students to “celebrate one another … I got chills because I thought, ‘you know what? U of L is the greatest college in the world.’” Then she said, “Let me hear a round of applause from all the people in here [who] are straight.”

Applause and cheering sounded from every part of the room.

“Thank you all for coming. You know, some of my best friends are straight,” she said, pausing before, “including myself,” a comment which elicited sniggers from the audience.

“Wait a minute, why was that funny?” Devereaux asked with mock surprise. “No, I’m about as straight as … nevermind, we won’t go there.”

The house exploded with laughter. Devereaux finished with a few more jokes in this vein, then took her leave, making way for Molly Stevens, a dreadlocked student comedian who performed a warm-up routine. Stevens said that she had arrived fifteen minutes late because “we operate on Queer Standard Time. Have you heard of it?”

A performer at PINK.

As an outside observer looking in, she read the state of Kentucky to filth. She told an anecdote about her adventures in the college hunt, having toured Warren Wilson College, a private school in North Carolina, which she described as “a hippie commune with classes.” After their tour, her mother, who was present at PINK, had asked her, “Are you going to get dreadlocks and start digging women?” Stevens responded “‘No, mom!’ But then I went to (U of L) and that still happened.”
Then came the classic drag performances. Only one performer took on a number that was specifically invented for the drag circuit: “RuPaul’s Drag Race” contestant Shangela Laquifa Wadley’s “Werqin’ Girl.” And werq it she did; she sashayed her way offstage carrying a chair full of bills, one of the most-tipped performers of the night.

The unspoken rule is that there is “no tea, no shade” at PINK; rather than trying to one-up other performers, many took the bills they had earned onstage to the tipping line in support of their fellows. In fact, they were often the most enthusiastic of fans, waving bills in the air and dancing to the beat.

Interestingly, understandably, glitter was strictly prohibited at the event, but what the show lacked in gleaming acrylic particles, it made up for in feathers. After performances by several members of the cast, the crew had to take what M.C. Lampe amusedly designated as “feather breaks” to clear the fowl debris from the catwalk.

PINK was held on Friday, March 22. It is U of L’s longest-running fundraiser, and is now in its 16th year. But U of L students are not the only ones who attend PINK: Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, or PFLAG, and Louisville Youth Group, or LYG, had both reserved private tables at the event. PFLAG is a national organization which helps to provide support and answers to the loved ones of LGBTQ individuals. LYG is a local organization which aims to provide a safe place for activities and discussion among local youth, especially those who identify as LGBTQ.

As the LGBT study abroad program, for which PINK is a benefit, will be held this summer in Greece, the cast held a special performance of a dance to a Greek song. The five performers were each dressed as a different archetype of ancient Greek mythology. One was a tanned, muscular Adonis who lay in a relaxed pose during the song, feeding himself grapes and collecting tips in a dish. The four dancers were dressed as a hoplite, a satyr, Narcissus and a figure who appeared to be based on Helen of Troy.

Kimora St. James strutted onto stage for the final solo act of the night with some “Queen Bey” realness, straddling a chair in a pair of white, heeled, thigh-high boots. After her portion, the entire cast and crew reunited on stage for a rendition of “Seasons of Love” from the hit Broadway musical “Rent”.

Devereaux, the show’s ringleader, was an automatic star by virtue of the number of times she appeared in the show, performing four routines throughout the spectacle, with costume changes for each.

Devereaux was the show’s ringleader.

But she wasn’t the only one the audience had their eyes on: when asked her favorite, audience member Shatrice Watkins replied “(Kimora) St. James. She was amazing.” Watkins’ friend Hau Le, who accompanied her to the show, concurred: “Oh, the House of St. James. No question. ‘Run the World,’ are you kidding?”
So who run the world? PINK 2013 proved that the answer is still ‘kings and queens’: U of L’s drag royalty.

features@louisvillecardinal.com
Photos by Rae Hodge/The Louisville Cardinal

Yityish Aynaw is the first black woman to ever hold the honor of Miss Israel.

In The News: What you missed while you were in class

By Simon Isham and Maggie Cunningham–

Yityish Aynaw is the first black woman to ever hold the honor of Miss Israel.

LMPD Mac 24 program graduates 36 recruits
A diverse group of 36 recruits has graduated the Louisville Metro Police Department’s MAC 24 program.  Among the recruits, 66 percent have graduate or masters degrees in varying subjects from engineering to homeland security and criminal justice. The graduates are also diverse in their backgrounds, coming from different states and countries such as Tennessee and Ghana.  One graduate will now be the fourth generation to serve our community with the LMPD. The diversity in the class represents the city and the LMPD.

Ohio River bridge tolls planned to hit projections
Rates and billing methods have been determined for the future bridge tolls on the Ohio River bridges crossing between Kentucky and Indiana.  An outside consulting firm prepared a traffic and revenue study for the project and has indicated that the base toll rates will likely hit the projections. “Assumed” rates include $1 per crossing for frequent users, $2 per two axle vehicle, $5 per medium truck and $10 for heavy trucks.  There will be no cash payment option or toll booths. Payment methods include a vehicle-mounted electronic transponder that sends a signal to overhead devices and debits the charge to an established fund, or a high-resolution video that captures your license plate and mails the bill.

Earth Hour honored at state capital
On Saturday, March 23, from 8:30-9:30 p.m., all nonessential lights at the state capital building in Frankfort will be shut off for an hour to honor Earth Hour.  This is Kentucky’s 15th consecutive year participating in this global event. Earth Hour is a campaign to reduce the human impact on Earth and Governor Steve Beshear, along with first lady Jane Beshear are happy to be supportive of the environment by participating. A top priority of the Beshear administration has been reducing energy use in government buildings, state facilities and eventually public facilities as well.

Gay Pride house painted across the street from Westboro Baptist Church
Aaron Jackson, the owner of the nonprofit group Planting Peace, found a house for sale across the street from the Westboro Church in Topeka, Kan. via Google Earth.  The Westboro Church is notorious for their anti-homosexuality views and their picketing of military funerals.  Jackson enlisted the help of his mother, who is an artist designed and oversaw the rainbow color scheme of the house’s new exterior.  The original plan for the house was for it become an LGBTQ museum, although zoning laws prohibited it.  The Westboro Church has been welcoming in its own way, but is mostly thankful for the attention that they believe the house will bring the church.

Obama visits Israel, dines with beauty queen
President Barack Obama concluded a visit to the State of Israel this week, where he spoke extensively with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the U.S.’s relations with it and its relations with other countries in the Middle East. Obama also attended a formal dinner with new Miss Israel Yityish Aynaw, the first black woman to ever hold the honor. Aynaw joins the ranks of dozens Ethiopian women making headlines, along with Hagit Yaso, the 2012 winner of Israel’s “American Idol”-style singing competition, and Belaynesh Zevadia, Israel’s first Ethiopian ambassador.

news@louisvillecardinal.com
Photo courtesy of judiciaryreport.com