First Night Time Gay/Lesbian Pride Parade in Houston
The Pride Committee of Houston (PCOH) has announced
plans to host America's first night time Gay/Lesbian Pride parade on Saturday evening, June 28, 1997. The parade, which is expected to draw up to 50,000 spectators and over 100 parade entries, will take place along a one-mile route in the Montrose community, near downtown Houston.
Glowing With Pride is one of over 60 gay/lesbian pride parades taking place in North America and the first evening pride parade to be held in the United States. Already garnering accolades from Houston's gay/lesbian community, committee members are excited about making this year's pride festivities unique and memorable. "The predictable Houston summer heat has inspired PCOH to plan this unique event and make history at the same time," said Susan Guerrero, PCOH co-chair. Committee members are in the process of staging the event, which will be a spectacular evening full of dazzling lights, neon floats and colorful costumes very much like popular Mardi Gras parades.
Glowing With Pride is the theme of this year's parade slogan and Pride Week festivities. PCOH also unveiled the new four color logo designed by graphic artist, Leana Columenares. The four color logo captures the essence of Pride Week and reflects the energy and enthusiasm being put into this event. The design is dedicated to the memory of Columenares' father, Bill Whiting, who died of AIDS in February '96. "Pride is a strong emotion that each of us can find within our hearts and I wanted to emphasize this in the logo," said Columenares.
New Orleans, unique among North American cities, will hold its pride parade on Oct. 11, during what should be a fabulous fall day, far away from the humid hell of June.
Atlanta will be the host city of
Southeast Leatherfest 97,
June 13-15, at the Ramada Inn Downtown.
A special rate of $69 per night has been established for leatherfest attendees. In addition, arrangements have been made with United Airlines for discounts off their regular fares. The weekend packages will include entrance to the Mr. & Ms. Georgia Leather Contest, the Southeast Preliminary Drummer competition, a play party, bar tours of Atlanta's hottest leather/fetish bars, with transportation provided, seminars and discussion panels (Pat Califia, author of books such as Macho Sluts, Sensuous Magic and Public Sex will be leading two workshops) and a leather vendor fair.
For packet information, call toll-free: 1.888.285.1955, write Southeast Leatherfest, 97, P.O. Box 78794, Atlanta, GA 30357-0894 or E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cemetery Refuses to Honor
Legal Contract of Lesbian Couple
S herry Barone and Cynthia Fried
man, Philadelphia natives who
moved together to Los Angeles, were in a relationship for 13 years when Friedman succumbed to cancer at age 35 in 1994. Following her 1989 diagnosis, Friedman signed extensive documents in an effort to assure that her relationship with Barone would be given legal force. Just as most people in a 13 -year partnership would, Friedman wished to rely on Barone's judgments about her medical care and arrangements after her death.
In several discussions about her headstone, Friedman had asked that Barone include the inscription: "Beloved life partner, daughter, granddaughter, sister, and aunt." Within days of Friedman's death, Barone purchased two adjoining plots in a Philadelphia-area cemetery. Friedman's grave remains unmarked because of the cemetery's refusal to act on Barone's instructions.
Before she died, Friedman explicitly rejected any relatives' authority to challenge actions by Barone on her behalf But despite having given Barone full legal authority, the Har Jehuda Cemetery in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, insists it cannot follow Barone's instructions for the headstone. The cemetery asserts that, because Friedman's parents do not agree about her wishes concerning the headstone epitaph, a court order must resolve that Barone has authority to determine Friedman's epitaph.
"This couple did everything a lesbian or gay couple can do to make sure their relationship was given legal effect, including drawing up wills, powers of attorney, health proxies, and explicit instructions to the survivor for carrying out wishes," said David S. Buckel, Lambda's staff attorney on the case. "Those legal precautions are supposed to allow a survivor to focus on grieving and healing. Sherry Barone instead has faced the pain and stress of seeing her partner's explicit wishes disrespected and of having to fight for the most basic respect for their relationship," he said.
Suing on the surviving partner's behalf, Lambda filed Barone v. Har Jehuda Cemetery in federal court in Philadelphia. The case asserts there is no legal basis for any party to contravene Barone's authority to carry out Friedman's wishes. Furthermore, the lawsuit asserts, the cemetery breached its contract and caused emotional distress by refusing to honor those wishes.
Both women were raised in Jewish families and have relatives buried in defendant cemetery. As a result of the cemetery's refusal to respect its contract with Barone, the traditional "unveiling" of the headstone occurred without a grave marker. The unveiling is an important Jewish tradition that officially marks the end of the grieving period one year after a loved one's death.
"I didn't complete the grieving process that a person should have after losing a loved one, and I will never recover from the emotional and spiritual agony of the unveiling at Cynthia's unmarked grave," said Barone, who is 36. "My life cannot go on fully until I know that Cynthia's spirit is at rest, her wishes having been carried out," Barone said.
Attempts at mediation failed, despite statements of support Barone gathered from joint friends and some of Friedman's relatives. The cemetery insisted on having the consent of Friedman's parents to a headstone inscription or a court order requiring it to follow Barone's instructions.
"It would be unimaginable for a cemetery to question a husband's or wife's authority to act after a spouse's death. This couple did everything possible to assure that they would be treated appropriately," said Lambda Legal Director Beatrice Dohrn. "This case illustrates that even when lesbian and gay couples have lawyers draft all the recommended documents, they are vulnerable to the homophobia of those who will not respect our families," she said.
Friedman and Barone met and fell in love when they were teenagers in Philadelphia. In their early twenties, they committed themselves to each other for life, later moving to the Los Angeles area. Barone remained dedicated to Friedman through years of illness, caring for her and even sleeping on the floor of her room when she had to be hospitalized.
"In response to a grieving partner's efforts to honor the wishes of her loved one, we have had to go to court to get justice for Sherry and Cynthia," said Abbe F. Fletman of Klehr, Harrison, Harvey, Branzburg & Ellers in Philadelphia, Lambda's cooperating attorney on the case. "We hope this will be a lesson for everyone about the need lesbian and gay couples have for legal protections."
The headstone requested by Barone includes the Star of David and Friedman's Hebrew name, Sheva, and states: Cynthia L. Friedman, Beloved life partner, daughter, granddaughter, sister, and aunt A spirited and compassionate woman who will be forever in our hearts [from In The Life, http://www.inthelife.com/news06.htm]
Media Synergy Adds "Pride" to Their Website
Media Synergy, is pleased to announce the addition of the "Happy Pride
Day '97" page to their website (http://www.mediasyn.com). Designed to
raise awareness of Pride Day events, the page offers free animated Pride Day cards, as well as a history of the Rainbow flag.
Internet users are encouraged to send these Pride Day greetings as a way of expressing their Pride online. The Pride Day animations feature this year's International Pride Day theme, "Equality Through Visibility," and have been designed with @loha, a software program that enables users to add animation and sound to their e-mail. Cyber surfers can also download a free trial version of @loha if they wish to modify the animations, or create new ones by importing images, backgrounds, music, or even their own voice. The cards are also downloadable from InterPride (http://www.interpride.com), a site maintained by the International Association of Lesbian/Gay Pride Coordinators, Inc, that gives a comprehensive listing of gay pride events taking place around the world.
"We're really pleased that Media Synergy can help people to get Out' online," said marketing associate Jennifer Green. "With over 118 Pride Day parades taking place around the world, there's plenty of occasions and opportunities for people to strengthen their pride on the Net." The Media Synergy page will remain up until September 97, when Pride festivities start to wind down.
War on America
Psychologist Dr. James Dobson
calls himself "America's fore
most family expert." Yet few in the general American public and media know who he is, or just how powerful this religious leader has become in Washington, D.C. And that's why this tell-all book, James Dobson's War on America, by Gil Alexander-Moegerle (Prometheus Books, 1997), was written.
Dobson runs an influential radio show and his non-profit group, "Focus on the Family," raises about $100 million annually from its loyal followers. Dobson, who served on the federal Commission on Pornography, is a best-selling author and well-known radio host in the Nazarene religious community. But according to former Focus co-founder, Gil Alexander-Moegerie, Dobson fancies himself a public policy advisor and maker, who won't answer the media's questions about his positions or financial dealings.
Dobson's unquestioned power and clout in Washington is unmatched by Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell.
Alexander-Moegerle has done the world a favor with this book. Barry Lynn, President of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, views Dobson this way: "James Dobson and Focus on the Family represent the greatest threat to constitutional liberties of our time."