Overheard in Orlando: Bearded lady, honoring Paris, BlueStar and Central Florida softball changes

By : Anonymous
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Meet the Bearded Lady!
Who says a drag queens can’t participate in Movember? Local entertainer and bartender Addison Taylor is foregoing the typical hairless painted-face look of most drag entertainers, and she’s been sporting a full beard since the start of November.

Movember, also known as No-Shave November, was conceived in 2004 in Australia and New Zealand as a way to raise awareness and funds for men’s health, such as testicular and prostate cancer. It quickly grew fame over the years making No-Shave November an annual event where most men don a beard or mustache.

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Overheard in Tampa Bay: Tampa is tops

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Glenn Beck thinks St. Pete is just sinful
Glenn Beck, the conservative “Chicken Little” doomsdayer, has released a list of the 15 cities he finds to be the least religious in America, and our very own St. Petersburg made the list, coming in at number six. Beck ran down the list on his radio show and posted it up on his website Aug. 11, saying, “These are the cities to avoid like the plague. And if you look at that list, these are the cities that are already having trouble. We haven’t even hit the road bump.” Beck does not offer up the criteria of how he came up with the list. One can only assume it was some divine presence (Cheney can you hear me?). Still, not everyone saw being Beck-listed as a negative. After the list was released, St. Pete mayor Rick Kriseman tweeted, “Woke up, sun shining, & @glennbeck lumping #StPete in w/ Portland-San Fran-Seattle-Denver-Phoenix as cities to avoid. An honor! #ThanksGlenn.”

A picture worth a thousand spaces
One of the things that can make living in the concrete jungle of a big city a bit dreary is the colorless sides of skyscrapers, high rises and parking garages, but the city of Tampa is looking to spruce things up by having the outside of the William F. Poe Parking Garage in downtown painted. The city has recruited the artistic skills of muralists Leon “Tes One” Bedore and Ales “Bask” Hostomsky to paint images along the outside of the garage. The images will be large enough so that travelers along Interstate 275 will be able to see them. The art project will begin this October and should take about eight weeks to complete. Hostomsky told the Tampa Bay Times that he and Bedore have known each other since they were teenagers and are still refining the details of the mural. The theme for the work is “Stay Curious” and will incorporate many of the cultural landmarks in the area. The mural will cost the city $100,000 and will come from the budget for public art.

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Eye in the sky: I-Drive 360 is opened and ready for Gay Days

By : Kirk Hartlage
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This Gay Days Weekend the biggest, newest attraction isn’t in any of the theme parks. The Orlando Eye, a 400-foot tall observation wheel, opened just last month as the centerpiece of I-Drive 360, a new dining and entertainment destination on International Drive.

Standing 100 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty, The Orlando Eye is the tallest observation wheel on the U.S. East Coast. Visitors start their journey with a 5 minute pre-flight film experience featuring a 3D movie of iconic Central Florida landmarks accompanied by spectacular in-theater effects including fireworks, wind, scents and lighting.

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NYC considers making Stonewall Inn a city landmark

By : Wire Report
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NEW YORK — Officials are considering whether to make the Stonewall Inn a city landmark, granting recognition to a powerful symbol of the gay rights movement.

The New York Times says the Landmarks Preservation Commission is set to vote June 2 on taking a first step: adding the property to its calendar. The Greenwich Village tavern would be the first landmark honored specifically for its role in the city’s gay history.

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Obama signs executive order for LGBT employee protections

By : Staff Report
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Washington, D.C. An executive order signed by President Barack Obama on July 21 prohibits federal contractors from discriminating based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and leaves no exemption for religious groups.

“America’s federal contracts should not subsidize discrimination against the American People,” Obama said during a ceremony at the White House, adding that with the move, “our government will become a little bit fairer.”

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Screened Out – Tammy

By : Stephen Miller
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Melissa McCarthy, Susan Sarandon, Toni Collette, Allison Janney, Mark Duplass, Gary Cole, Kathy Bates, Sandra Oh, Dan Aykroyd

The road-trip comedy Tammy was written by McCarthy and her husband (and the film’s director) Ben Falcone. They’re a very funny couple, but their writing feels like a few miles of rough concrete. You’ll laugh during this journey, but you’ll also miss important landmarks like character consistency, arc, and plot points building on one another.

Mostly, Tammy is a goofy summer comedy replete with enough “feel good” to make audiences smile. All the stunt casting either helps or hurts, depending on how often you want to be pulled out of the film, every time you see another familiar face. Often, it feels like they only could schedule some of these actors for one or two days of shooting.

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National Parks Service wants to find and promote LGBT sites

By : Wire Report
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San Francisco (AP) — The National Park Service is launching an initiative to make places and people of significance to the history of lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual Americans part of the national narrative.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is convening a panel of 18 scholars next month that will be charged with exploring the LGBT movement’s story in areas such as law, religion, media, civil rights and the arts. The committee will identify relevant sites and its work will be used to evaluate them for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places, designation as National Historic Landmarks, or consideration as national monuments, Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis said. “The Park Service is, in my view, America’s storyteller through place,” Jarvis said “It’s important that the places we recognize represent the full complement of the American experience.”

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12,000 march in Tokyo’s pride parade

By : Wire Report
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Thousands of people participated in a gay pride parade in Japan’s capital Sunday to kick off “Tokyo Rainbow Week,” the first ever celebration of the LGBT community.

Organizers said about 12,000 people took part in the “Tokyo Rainbow Pride”parade, which has taken place for several years in the posh Harajuku shopping district, but is now a part of the weeklong celebration. Events run through May 6.

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Some not happy HRC wants to move into Castro Camera

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CastroCamAbstr_335104113.jpgOn the surface, the new tenant at the storefront where Harvey Milk waged his historic political campaign would seem like the last organization to anger people in the gay community.

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest gay rights lobbying group, wants to open up an information center and a gift shop in the building that would pay tribute to the slain gay rights leader.

But Milk’s friends and admirers are so incensed at the group taking over the slain San Francisco supervisor’s stomping grounds that they would rather see a Starbucks there, underscoring the tensions that exist within the various factions of the gay rights movement.

The organization is a frequent target of criticism from gay rights activists who consider its mainstream, “inside the Beltway” style ineffective. They believe the organization’s philosophy of incremental progress in the gay rights movement runs completely counter to the uncompromising message of gay pride championed by Milk.

“It’s spitting in the face of Harvey’s memory,” said AIDS Memorial Quilt founder Cleve Jones, who received his political education at Milk’s side in the 1970s.

“What’s next? Removing the Mona Lisa’s face and replacing it with the Wal-Mart smiley face?” asked Bil Browning, the founder of a popular gay issues blog.

The Washington-based nonprofit organization announced last week that it was moving its San Francisco “Action Center” and gift store into the site of Milk’s old Castro Camera.

It’s a historic site in the gay rights community. A sidewalk plaque outside that marks the spot’s historical significance and encases some of Milk’s ashes is a popular stop for visitors making pilgrimages to San Francisco gay landmarks.

In the 32 years since Milk was assassinated at City Hall along with Mayor George Moscone, the building has housed a clothing store, a beauty supply shop, and most recently, a housewares emporium.

HRC President Joe Solmonese said the new location will stock items bearing Milk’s words and image, with a portion of the proceeds going to a local elementary school named in Milk’s honor and the GLBT Historical Society. The organization also plans to preserve a Milk mural the previous tenants installed, Solmonese said.

“People are rightly protective of the legacy of Harvey Milk, and we intend to do our part to honor that legacy,” Human Rights Campaign spokesman Michael Cole-Schwartz said. “Bringing an LGBT civil rights presence to the space that has previously been several for-profit retail outlets is a worthwhile goal.”

Not according to activists like Jones and Dustin Lance Black, the screenwriter who won an Oscar for “Milk” â┚¬â€ the 2008 Sean Penn movie about the first openly gay man elected to a major elected office in the U.S.

During his life, Milk railed against well-heeled gay leaders he regarded as assimilationists and elitists â┚¬â€ Black devoted two scenes in “Milk” to the subject. Some of the leading activists he crossed swords with went on to launch the Human Rights Campaign, which sometimes is criticized for focusing on lavish fundraisers and political access at the expense of results, Jones said.

“He was not an ‘A-Gay’ and had no desire to be an A-Gay. He despised those people and they despised him,” he said. “That, to me, is the crowd HRC represents. Don’t try to wrap yourself up in Harvey Milk’s mantle and pretend you are one of us.”

The Human Rights Campaign has been struggling to regain its credibility with gay activists who favor a more grass roots approach since at least early 2008, when the group agreed to endorse a federal bill that included job protections for gays and lesbians, but not transgender people.

The disillusionment grew later that year with the passage of a same-sex marriage ban in California. Although HRC donated $3.4 million to fight Proposition 8, the devastating loss provoked young gay activists to take to the streets and to question the organizing and messaging abilities of established gay rights groups.

Since then, HRC has been accused of taking too soft an approach with President Barack Obama and the Congress that until last month’s election was controlled by Democrats. To some, the group’s failings were epitomized by the U.S. Senate failure last week, for the second time this year, to repeal the ban on gays serving openly in the U.S. military.

Black said HRC’s failure to talk to anyone close to Milk before it leased the Castro Street storefront demonstrates that it is out of touch. He and Jones think the space would be put to better use as a drop-in center for gay and lesbian youth, or if HRC partnered with another local nonprofit to ensure its sales benefit San Francisco.

“If any LGBTQ political organization is to move into Harvey’s old shop, there is a higher standard to be met, because such a move begs comparisons,” Black said. “Because it has become a tourist destination, whoever moves in that’s a political organization is in some way adopting Harvey as their own.”

HRC creative director Don Kiser understands the concerns and says he is open to suggestions, but thinks the criticism is overstated. The group obtains about one-third of the new names on its mailing lists from visitors to its retail stores in San Francisco, Provincetown, Mass., and Washington. Each tourist who goes in to buy a Harvey Milk T-shirt or an HRC tote bag is a potential activist, Kiser says.

“They live in small towns in Texas and flyover states. Those are the people we need to help find the spirit that Harvey Milk had,” he said. “If they can go back and take a little of the spirit the Castro has, we will see sea changes.”