Hey quick, look over there…

***As an addendum to this post, it needs a little clarification so that you may understand the scope of what is being said. The funds that are being redistributed are labeled as “unused” or “left over” funds. These are funds that are not allocated for any treatment program, currently. This was as of fiscal year 2016. Elizabeth Senerchia, spokesperson of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services was quoted as saying “These funds were unused and unobligated and had no impact on operation of the Ryan White Program or future scheduled distribution of funds for recipients for FY 2018.” Instead of these funds being used inside of the agency that supports the Ryan White Fund, they were redistributed outside of that agency. Update added August 23, 2018***

Washington Blade Report    Snopes.com Fact Check for Ryan White Funds

‘This administration, really, never ceases to amaze me to the depths in which it sinks. This country has advanced so far in civil rights since the 50s and it seems that this president is hell bent on taking us back to where it all started. We have seen a rise in hate crimes and hate groups. We have watched in horror as children have been ripped from the arms of their parents and thrown into internment camps. Even seen him start reversing rulings that were set forth by previous presidents, such as not allowing Transgender People into the military, pushing to remove marriage rights and even supporting companies that will not serve the LGBTQ community.

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As if any of this was acceptable, we now find out that he is removing funds from the Ryan White Fund to support the very internment camps he set up. Camps that were a travesty to have even started are to be supported by a fund that was designed to help those who are uninsured and underinsured and living with HIV/AIDS. Pence was even quoted saying before he was elected that he wanted to drain the Ryan White fund and take the money to fund Gay Conversion Therapy. Ryan White was a kid who was infected with HIV due to a blood transfusion. The Fund was set in place to help those who couldn’t afford the cost of treatment, still receive help. This is already happening. Money is being diverted from needed healthcare to support a 1950s mindset.

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A Congressional campaign website from 2000, Pence was reported saying, “Congress should support the reauthorization of the Ryan White Care Act only after completion of an audit to ensure that federal dollars were no longer being given to organizations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviors that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus.”

Let’s talk numbers for a minute. By the end of the year, 26000 beds will be needed for the minors we are detaining. That will turn out to be roughly 586 million needed for this to happen. This will remove any possibility for training staff in HIV/AIDS care, needed medicine for patients, funds to offset medical coverage for those who cannot afford it, and needed funds to help in prevention and education about HIV/AIDS. The scope of people that the Ryan White fund covers goes far beyond the LGBTQ community. You can see here the scope of this fund and who it benefits Ryan White Fund.

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Having watched loved one go through the effects of HIV/AIDs and being there when they died, I fully understand the importance of this fund. And to see someone who was sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United State of America, so callously throw the needs of the people he serves to the wolves is heart wrenching. When will we finally say that enough is enough? When will we Unite and fight this? We can cut the legs from under him by contacting our Senators and Congress people and telling them how ashamed we are of how the government is abusing their citizens. #Civildisobedience This is important to our very way of lives.

Strength from the Queen

With the recent passing of the icon, Aretha Franklin, I think it is only fitting to look back on some of her more loved songs by LGBTQ community. I know that, primarily, I am speaking more to myself specifically, but these are songs that are immensely powerful. They were songs that leant me strength at times of struggle and songs that seemed to sum up feelings of a large percentage of gay men. Join me in celebrating someone who made an impact on the music industry for over 50 years.

 

  1.    Most important for me was R-E-S-P-E-C-T. It was a song that taught me about love and demanding equality from the person I was with. “What you want, baby I got it. What you need, do you know I got it? All I’m asking for is a little respect when you get home.” It resonates that we both want the same things. I can be what you need as long as you respect me. It changed a lot of how I viewed myself in the dating world
  1.    Think. A song that speaks to feminism and liberation. “You better think, think about what you’re trying to do to me…” it calls into question the motive of a person trying to discriminate against you. It also gave me strength to believe that I am good enough and should be treated the same as anyone else, regardless of my orientation
  1.    Sisters Are Doing it For Themselves. A song of solidarity. This was a song that leads so many people to believe that if you wanted something you had to do it yourself. Fight for your career, your rights, and your own respect. Combine that with the fact it was in the move First Wives Club with Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn, and Diane Keaton it was a powerhouse. The movie echoes the songs intent so well. It is an all time favorite.
  1.    I Never Loved A Man. A perfect song for a drag performance and one everyone can relate to. How many times have we all been in love with that man that everyone tells us we should just dump? We know it and we should, but he has worked some serious voodoo on us and we cant get away.
  1.    Rock Steady. What gay man doesn’t have a deep down love for disco; if you don’t then you need to learn to appreciate it. This slow burning sultry song that speaks to how music can move you is so many ways. It mirrors how love, dare I say lust, can you move you in the same ways. She uses driving reference is lovely innuendo style to keep you in the mood and your hips moving.
  1.    A Rose Is Still A Rose. This is a song about reclaiming your inner strength after someone tries to take it from you. A real example of cheating relationships and how you need to reclaim your strength and survive. The song talks about someone putting up a front to make others believe she is ok when she is devastated inside. Then turns it around and says, “He can’t lead you and then take you. Make you and then break you, Darlin’, you hold the power.” No matter what someone does to you or how they make you feel, you are still the same person you were before they came into your life.
  1.    Lastly, (You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman. On the surface, this song seems to be about someone who justifies their worth by someone coming into their life. For me and many others it was something else entirely. Inner strength from acceptance of how you are is one of the few things that can give you this kind of feeling or power. “Before the day I met you, life was so unkind. You’re the key to my piece of mind.” Coming out does this for so many people and is what it means to me.

These are seven of my most favorite Aretha Franklin songs. The ones that rotate through my music often and bring me up when I am feeling in dire straits. She was an inspiration figure who celebrated inner strength and spoke to an entire generation of women and yes even gay men. Though you may be gone, you will never be forgotten, and you will be missed. May your next journey be as influential.

 

Cuyahoga County Nondiscrimination Ordinance

Never has it been more important to make your voting voice be heard than with this administration. Every vote matters and can make vast differences in how the future of our country unfolds. If you aren’t registered to vote, then you need to get registered. It is a simple process online that you don’t even have to leave your house over. If you want assistance or looking for information, come out on September 6, 2018 to the MidTown Tech Hive at 6815 Euclid Ave Cleveland, OH 44103. We will have speakers from Voting Matters and All Voting is Local to answer questions, help get you registered, and even facilitate training for you to get others registered.

Your voice doesn’t stop there. There is an ordinance before the City Council that will grant LGBTQ residents of Cuyahoga county protection from being discriminated against for being LGBTQ. There are no regulations in Cleveland to prevent that from happen and we are one of the few states left that do not offer protection status for LGBTQ people. Let your councilperson know that this is unacceptable for you. Below is a form letter and links to web tools that will allow you to send these letters to every member of the city council. @ThinkPlexus gave this information to me. For more info contact them at info@thinkplexus.org.

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An efficient way to reach Council is to use this online tool which will send each of the members an email on your behalf.

The online tool contains a generic message that shows your support for these protections. You have the option of including something more personal like where you live and work and why this is important to you, your family, your company, etc. You don’t need to do so, but adding a brief personal statement to explain why you see this ordinance positively impacting our county can be very helpful.

The generic message that will be sent is:

Living in a welcoming and affirming community is important to me. I am proud to live in a county that is seeking to join hundreds of other municipalities in the United States by guaranteeing equal treatment under the law for our LGBTQ residents and visitors.

I believe that if you’re willing to work hard, you should be judged on the quality of your work and not who you are––and that’s what this legislation delivers.

Right now, 20 municipalities in Ohio have some version of this ordinance, including 6 in Cuyahoga County. Unfortunately, many people in Cuyahoga County live in one of those six and work in or visit others, or visa-versa. This creates a patchwork where Cuyahoga County residents can lose their basic rights on their commute. This ordinance solves that problem.

I urge you to vote yes on this important ordinance when you get the opportunity.

If you prefer to send individual emails, here is the list of Council members’ email addresses. You can opt to send each of them an email or one to Dan Brady, Council President at dbrady@cuyahogacounty.us.

The annual Pride Parade is replaced with a Resist March as members of the LGBT community protest President Donald Trump in West Hollywood, California
The annual Pride Parade is replaced with a Resist March as members of the LGBT community protest President Donald Trump in West Hollywood, California, U.S. June 11, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

#GayTheVote #VoteThemOut #StandUpAndBeCounted

 

LGBTQ History and the Holocaust

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I have found, personally, that when discussing the history of LGBTQ rights that it can lead to very different conversations. Some feel that the past is best kept there and focusing on current issues are more important. Others feel that we should use our past struggle as a guidepost for how to meet the challenges of future issues. It is important to keep in mind what has transpired so that we don’t repeat the same mistakes in the future. With this current administration, it definitely is important to know what we have gone through as we may lose all we have gained.

It is always shocking to look back in history and see cities that have more open mindsets when it comes to LGBTQ lifestyles than our own. We often believe that we have come so far and that we are more enlightened due to the small steps we have gained. Close examination of history often shows that many places were much more tolerant than today. A shocking one is pre world war Germany. We remember, all to well, Hitler’s rise to power and how it affected Jewish culture. Hitler’s view of the Aryan culture was such a narrow view of what was considered viable people that any and all that didn’t fit it must be eradicated, this included Jewish people, gypsies, Jehovah witnesses, and any LGBT people. This year marked the 73rd anniversary of Auschwitz’s liberation, it only seems proper to reflect on some events that happened.

Before 1914, Berlin had been one of the most open cities in the world. German penal code had prevented homosexual acts since 1871 and while it was considered illegal it became mostly redundant. Many homosexual men and women led open lives and frequented bars and dance halls. It was considered by most to be the golden years of Berlin. Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld was a physician in Berlin at the time and the founder of the Institute of Sexology, which was considered to be the first organization in that era to promote LGBTQ rights. Dr. Hirschfeld was pushing for a reform of the German Penal code and his reform was backed by some 5,000 influential signatures. It was reported to have included the likes of Albert Einstein. Initially, this reform met resistance, but Dr. HIrschfeld kept pushing forward and even using tactics like “outing” of public officials who were known closeted homosexuals. These forced outings caused the beginning of legal reform for equality by 1920.

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January 30, 1933 that changed when Adolf Hitler became Chancellor, with his appointment he ordered the closing of all venues perceived as “gay.” “There was an incredible atmosphere of fear,” the last gay survivor, Gad Beck, who died in 2012, recalled of those early Nazi months. “Things used to be happy and carefree, but now they were being persecuted. It didn’t seem like persecution to me, since the bar was still open. But they said this bar is only open to round us up. They did this again later with the Jews. They’d let them keep their meeting places so they could snatch them up.”

It was the mission of the Nazi regime to eradicate gay men. More than 100,000 people were arrested and sent to camps like Auschwitz, here thousands upon thousands perished through acts of torture and the gas chambers. The Nazi regime insisted that homosexuality was a disease that could be cured. Gay men were rounded up and labeled with pink triangles and sent to various concentrations camps, Once they arrived in these camps they underwent forced castration and beatings. They became subjects for cruel medical experiments to try to “cure” homosexuality.

In these camps they also faced homophobia from other prisoners. Rudolf Brazda, who died in 2011, was quoted remembers other prisoners saying ” Oh look, this one’s a fag.” Brazda kept what he went through a secret from everyone until 2008 when a monument was erected in Berlin for LGBTQ survivors of the holocaust. Until 1937 he had lived a happy and open life in Leipzig, Germany. At that point he was arrested for ‘unnatural lewdness’ and sentenced to six months in jail for writing love letters to his partner. In 1941, he was arrested again and sent to the concentration camps. Here he was given the number 7952 and had to sew a pink triangle to the left side of his camp uniform. Most didn’t understand why they were being arrested but had no means of retaliation due to Hitler’s regime leaving the vast populace powerless.

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“I arrived in a very big room. There was a pool there. In that pool we had to undress, and we had to bathe, naked. It was called ‘disinfection.’ In that moment, an SS officer pushed my head under the disinfectant liquid. I still had my gold chain, with a cross. It was a gift from my boyfriend. He ripped it and asked if I was a churchgoer. Of course I didn’t answer.” said Brazda. in August 2011, Rudolf Brazda died at the age of 98. Until that day, he continued to share his story as a means of warning to future generations. During these last years, he said: “If I finally speak, it’s for people to know what we, homosexuals, had to endure in Hitler’s days. It shouldn’t happen again.”

By 2012, all LGBTQ survivors of the holocaust had died. It is through their words, alone, that their stories survive. They are the teachings to remind us of what we have endured, the plights that should give us hope that this will never happen again. With the current administration rounding up children of “illegal” immigrants and putting them in detainment camps, is it so hard to believe that we are that far from this happening again. Daily we watch our rights, that we have fought so hard for, being taken away from us. Use this history as your lesson, use it to derive strength to fight, use it so that we never have to live through this again, and use it to honor those that have given their lives in  hopes of making a better future.

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Flaming River Comic-con

I know what you are thinking, this year’s Comicon was a blast, but what can I do to rock out my Queer Geek side until it comes back next year. Flaming River Con is your answer and it will be held Saturday September 22nd, 2018. This is the first ever Midwest LGBTQIA+ event for all things Queer and Geek. You need to come out and support this group.

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Founded in 2017, Flaming River Arts is a Cleveland based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose goal is to foster, showcase, and celebrate LGBTQIA+ voices and the community, and combat bigotry by increasing the visibility of marginalized persons within geek culture. Their first event, Flaming River Comic-Con, was last year with this one being far larger and is a place for LBGTQIA+ artists, authors, and vendors to showcase their talent. You can come and learn about queer history in comics, rock your favorite Cosplay, learn to Cosplay on a budget, and sit in on various Queer themed panels.

 

Their special guest this year is Los Angeles’ own Sina Grace, writer of Marvel’s solo Iceman comics. Sina has received the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Comic Book. You can also take part in a host of panels about topics such as; queer comics, social activism, cosplay on a budget, queer representation in horror, and much more. There will be 40 vendors to quench your queer culture thirsts, so come thirsty. So dust off that Light saber, grab your Sonic Screwdriver, put on your Red Shirt and join the away team at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Rocky River, Ohio. Also to appear is Dale Lazarov, Father of the American Bara Comicsas the writer, art director and licensor of Sticky Graphic Novels. The Sticky Graphic Novels are picture based, gay character based, and sexpositive graphic novels. His fans rave that his works are “a joyous expression of male/male sexuality that, while erotic, is neither grubby nor tasteless.” Also, Dr. Ken Scheck, author of LGBTQ Cleveland, will host a panel on Cartoon 4 Change. This panel will discuss the evolution of Cleveland’s cartoon as the discuss HIV/AIDS, racism, and how the LGBTQ community interacts.

 

Here is a list of some of the vendors that will be at Flaming River Comicon. Pointless Peaches, LLC, a retail store that makes handcrafted items by the founder LaShanta Knowles. Northcoast Armor & Jewelry , their specialty is custom made chain and scale mail jewelry, clothing, armor, and accessories. She also makes her very own line of dragon jewelry.  ArtsParadis Handcrafted Jewelry  is a LGBTQ owned and operated business that specializes in handcrafted jewelry. Charlene and Jeff, owners and crafters behind the company, specialize in handcrafted jewelry.

FRC

FRA is pleased to announce its first annual Flaming River Con! The all-day event will take place Saturday September 22nd, 2018 at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Rocky River, Ohio. The event will be the Midwest’s first all LGBTQIA+ geek convention, showcasing everything queer and geek, including comics, zines, podcasts, art, books, cosplay, panels, and workshops. Author and illustrator Sina Grace will headline the convention. Grace has published several graphic novels in addition to working for Marvel Comics, IDW, Valiant, and more. Grace is currently writing the solo Iceman comics for Marvel.

Flaming River Con will be holding a book signing and meet and greet with Sina Grace at John and Carol’s Comics on September 21st, 6pm-8pm.

For more information, including panel, vendor, and sponsor applications, please use the contact information below:

So, come on out and support your local LGBTQ community and get your geek on!!!

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Website: www.flamingriverarts.org

 

Email: flamingrivercon@gmail.com

EIN: 82-5337147

 

Sincerely,

Flaming River Arts